[DEBATE] : (Fwd) South Africa's Minerals Energy Complex - UKZN workshop on 17-18 June
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Jun 7 06:09:41 BST 2008
The Minerals Energy Complex: Economic Development Strategic Research
Initiative (EDSRI) workshop, 17th and 18th June 2008 Print
Just over a decade ago, Ben Fine and Zav Rustomjee co-authored what some
regard as one of the most significant books on the South African
economy, entitled The Political Economy of South Africa, from
Minerals-Energy Complex to Industrialisation. (WUP, 1996). The book
generated some debate both within academia as well as in policy circles
for a while, in the context of the political developments in South
Africa at that time, and the need for the new government both to
understand more about the nature of the South African economy, and to
think through, given this, the kind of policy framework that would be
required to address the appalling legacy that apartheid had left. But it
would not be unfair to say that the MEC as a way of characterising the
SA system of capitalist accumulation has, since the late 1990s, been
ignored and dismissed.
Now 10 years later, the Economic Development Strategic Research
Initiative (EDSRI) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, (which is a
cluster of departments in the broad area of economic development and
political economy, which was established by the Research Office to
promote research in this area across the University's many campuses),
convened by Professor Vishnu Padayachee, has decided to revisit that
debate by hosting a day and half workshop on the theme The MEC: how
significant does it remain to an understanding of the nature of the
Political Economy of South Africa? The workshop will debate and discuss
the ways in which the MEC has evolved, mutated in the light of factors
such as the globalisation of the SA economy after apartheid; the shift
to the centre of the economy of finance; the demise of the mining
finance-houses; the listing in London of some of South Africa's major
mining and finance houses, such as Anglo-American, BHP Billiton and
others; changes in the global demand and supply of key commodities in
the wake of developments in China and India, and the energy crisis
currently being experienced in SA.
A wide variety of SA scholars, and also international scholars who can
meet their flight costs will be invited (including Ben Fine) as well as
some key national and provincial government officials in departments
such as Trade and Industry, Minerals and Energy, Finance, as well as
labour and civil society organisations working on areas of the economy
and energy. The workshop will offer a unique opportunity for leading
scholars and policy-makers and civil society to meet to think through
and debate academic and policy issues related to the structure of the SA
economy, as well as to key aspects such as industrialisation, energy,
finance, conglomerates, electricity. We believe that such an academic
and policy meeting has not occurred in South Africa since the heady
early days of the transition to democracy, and is long overdue. EDSRI
intends to use the papers presented as a basis of commissioning an
edited volume on this theme, and to explore the potential for an
externally funded programme of continuing collaborative research and
related activity in training and policy advice.
For planning purposes, anybody wishing to attend should contact Vishnu
The draft programme follows below:
Day One (June 17th) evening, Ikes Bookshop,
48a Florida Rd. Morningside, Durban.
17h00-18h00: cocktails, light dinner
18h00-18h15: Welcome (Vishnu Padayachee)
18h15-18h45: Bill Freund (UKZN): Intellectual traditions in the study of
the South African political economy.
Day Two (June 18th), Makaranga Gardens Lodge, Kloof.
08h30: Registration, coffee
Morning session: Chair: Vishnu Padayachee (SDS, UKZN)
09h00: Welcome: Vishnu Padayachee (UKZN)
09h15-10h00: Ben Fine (SOAS, University of London): Revisiting the MEC
10 years on.
10h00-10h45: Nicolas Pons-Vignon and and Seeraj Mohamed (CSID, Wits):
Financialisation and the MEC.
11h00-11h45: Simon Roberts (Competition Commission and Wits):
Industrial policy under democracy: apartheid's grown-up infant
industries - Iscor and Sasol.
11h45-12h30: Eddie Webster and Andries Bezuidenhout (Sociology/SWOP,
Wits): Trajectories of manufacturing: white goods manufacturing in
Australia, South Africa and South Korea.
12h30-13h00 Discussion of morning papers
Early afternoon session: Chair: Jim Fairburn (Economics, UKZN)
14h15-15h00: Patrick Bond (Director, CCS, and SDS): The MEC,
carbon trading and climate change
15h00-15h45: Jackie Dugard: (Acting Director, CALS, Wits) A rights based
approach to electricity provision
15h45-16h30: afternoon tea (deliberately longish)
Late afternoon session: Chair: Glen Robbins (SDS, UKZN)
IT support (Skype): Patrick Bond
16h30-16h50: (via SKYPE) Gavin Capps (University of Johannesburg):
A Bourgeois Reform with Social Justice? Platinum Mining, the Mineral
Development Bill and the Post-apartheid Transformation of the MEC.
16h50-17h10: (via SKYPE) David MacDonald (Queens, Canada): Electric
capitalism: conceptualizing electricity and capital accumulation in
Early evening session Chair: Vishnu Padayachee
17h10-18h00: The way forward: ideas about taking this debate forward.
Keith Hart 20 minutes, followed by general discussion
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