A LULA MOMENT FOR SOUTH AFRICA: SEARCHING FOR ‘SUGARMAN’?
Joel Netshitenzhe: Executive Director (Mapungubwe Institute, MISTRA)
Presentation at the COSATU Chris Hani Institute: Comparing Brazil and South Africa: A Labour Perspective
07 February 2013
Pursuit of South Africa’s ‘Lula Moment’ is akin to Searching for Sugarman. Like with the subject of the documentary, American musician Rodriguez, we have to ask whether the Lula Moment is still alive in Brazil; and whether the notion itself still enchants and excites!
Brazil’s unique positive achievements in addressing inequality – quite counter-intuitive in the context current global experience – should not be underplayed. However, it is critical that in interrogating its applicability to South African conditions, we should look at the totality of that narrative.
Virtually all South Africans agree that the country’s ideal should be to achieve not only high economic growth, but also social equity. Like with Brazil during President Lula’s second term (2006 – 2010), we seek to do this in a global context of ‘trickle-up’ economics, with growing inequality virtually everywhere. For instance, according to Brian Groom1, pre-tax income of the top 1% in the United States of America was 8% of National Income in 1974; and this had grown to 18% by 2008. The package of a FTSE 100 chief executive was about 47 times that of an average employee in 1998; and it had grown to 120 times by 2010.
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