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Vol 41 No 2

Published 21st January 2000

South Africa

Bonding with the Broederbond

The ANC government believes that Afrikaner businesses are more open to change than their English-speaking counterparts

In courting the country's three million Afrikaners, President Thabo Mbeki wants to harness their still formidable financial power to boost a flagging economy. Ministers concede that despite the government's adherence to International Monetary Fund-approved policies, economic growth has been far too slow (AC Vol 40 Nos 17 & 25). What is needed, they believe, is a critical mass of local savings and investment steered by government policy into expanding the economy. Afrikaners are a key element in this investment alliance. Nevertheless, they are more likely to be financial rather than political friends to the ruling African National Congress. Few ANC officials take seriously a bid by Roelof 'Pik' Botha, once Foreign Minister in the apartheid regime, to join the ANC. They admit, though, that it will be difficult to to stop him if he's determined to join their ranks. The ANC wooed Afrikaners before the 1994 elections to avert a revolt against black majority rule; now it woos them because it needs a more patriotic business partner. Mbeki favours Afrikaners over English-speaking whites because he thinks they are more committed to South Africa and are more pragmatic.

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