Regerings- en sake-elite se persepsies oor die invloed van die Suid-Afrikaanse sakesektor op openbare beleidsformulering

Doctoral Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In both scholarly and popular literature on the South African business sector, a high premium is commonly placed on the role of business in promoting political reform. This study investigated the perceived extent of such influence on political and socio-political aspects of public policy in the period 1978 to 1989. Using the "elite" and "group" approaches in Political Science as a point of departure, the perceptions of government and business elites in this regard, in particular the perceptions of the Afrikaner business elite, were analysed. Data from the government elite was gathered by means of postal questionnaires, and the business elite's input was obtained via interviews. The government elite's attitude towards, and perceptions of, interest groups were examined in the light of the premise that the latter's influence is largely determined by their legitimacy in the eyes of the decision-makers. These attitudes were established by moving from an assessment of the government elite's general perception of interest groups, to more specific perceptions of, amongst others, the business sector's access to decision-makers, and their perceived influence. The second part of the study primarily focused on the perceptions of the Afrikaner business elite vis-a-vis the influence of the business community on various dimensions of public policy. It was found that the government elite's attitude towards the existence of interest groups was largely dependent on the latter's utility with regard to the implementation and maintenance of policy, via mainly "positive" and "constructive" research. Government perceptions confirmed that several elite groups exercised specific influence on various dimensions of public policy. The Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (AHI), for example, was found to have the greatest influence on economic policy formulation, whereas the Afrikaner Broederbond and the Dutch Reformed Church exercise more significant influence on socio- political policy than the AHI. Apart from these traditional Afrikaner elite-groups, the "insiders" were found to include those whose economic ideologies, amongst other variables, were reconcilable with those of government Due to the fact that the National Party was compelled to enlarge its power base in the early 1980s, certain English business organisations such as ASSOCOM and the FCI and the black political organization, lnkatha, have to some extent, been included as "insiders" despite divergent political convictions or cultural differences. Both the government elite and the business elite felt, however that the Afrikaner businessmen and their organizations still retained the decisive influence on aspects of economic and socio-political decision-making. With regard to political decision-making, that is the forms of state, government and authority, the business elite did not express a desire to have a role in this arena. The government elite, on the other hand, was prepared to grant the business sector a role in this regard, on the condition that business input exercised a reactive legitimising role to their policy, rather than initiating change.

Bibliography: pages 316-351.