This paper explores the South African political economy through the lens of a variety of capitalism (VoC) approach. It argues that attempts were made in the early post-apartheid period to forge a more social-democratic and co-ordinated variety of capitalism, but that this floundered as the government adopted neoliberal macroeconomic policies against the wishes of organised labour, and as black economic empowerment policies further undermined an already racially-fraught business sector. Organised labour was able to push for, and maintain, protective labour market policies – but this came at the cost of growing policy inconsistency notably with regard to trade liberalisation which, in the presence of growing labour-market protection, has exacerbated South Africa's unemployment crisis. Unemployment remains intractable (and with it inequality) and corruption/patrimonialism appears to be a growing problem
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