22 October 2018 Photo Sonia Small
Prof Philippe Burgers book Getting It Right
Prof Philippe Burger’s book Getting It Right: A New Economy for South Africa highlights the urgent need to purge government policies of all forms of toxic patronage relationships and mismanagement in order to save our economy.

South Africa is in an economic rut. Economic growth has collapsed, the unemployment rate has increased, and the country’s level of inequality is of the highest in the world. As if that’s not enough, high levels of corruption, patronage, and state capture also mean that it suffers from severe institutional rot.

It is a sobering picture that is painted on the outside cover of Getting It Right: A New Economy for South Africa – the latest book by Prof Phillipe Burger, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.  In the book, he explains how the legacy of the Apartheid era labour system, the old system of Bantu Education, and the former Bantustans still cripple our economy. And why 24 years of democratic government reforms could still not deliver on the promises of work and prosperity.

Education to blame
 

One of the chargeable factors he singles out, is the state of our education system.
 
“Half of South Africa’s children start school, but never finish. Less than one percent of learners achieve a distinction in Maths in the final matric exam. And on an organisational level, many schools are crippled by labour unions calling the shots, which often means that underperforming teachers stay in their jobs. All these things eventually contribute to our unemployment rate of 27%,” he says.

Towards solutions

The solutions he advocates include securing recurrent economic investment by creating an investor-friendly environment, but also paying urgent attention to ridding our education system and communal land areas under traditional chiefs, where 32% of South Africa’s population are still living, of all forms of self-serving patronage relationships.
 
Prof Burger wrote the bulk of the book during his nine-month tenure as a Fulbright Exchange Scholar in the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University’s Earth Institute (New York). The time he spent there with renowned American economist, Professor Jeffrey Sachs – who also wrote the foreword of his book – was invaluable to his research.
  
Returning from an overseas trip recently, Prof Burger was delighted to see Getting It Right on the bestsellers shelf of Exclusive Books at the OR Tambo Airport. 
“It was a great welcome-home gift!”

He hopes the book will be read by the generally informed public in the run-up to next year’s elections, and that it will help to influence how people think about policy issues.


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