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Vol 52 No 24

Published 2nd December 2011


South Africa

Selling the state

Politicians, trades unionists and business people join battle for control of the state-owned companies

As budgetary pressures and unemployment mount, the government faces a dilemma over how to reform its state-owned enterprises. Business interests and some cash-strapped ministries eagerly demand sweeping privatisation of state conglomerates such as South African Airways (SAA), the transport company Transnet, and the electricity utility Eskom. Other ministries, senior officials in the governing African National Congress and their trades union allies rail against such sacrilege and demand these ‘crown jewels’ be kept in public ownership, not least because privatisation would mean the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.

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