Popular protest in South Africa has increased sharply in recent years to the extent that it now seems to have pervaded the floor of parliament. In post-apartheid South Africa, economic slowdown is found to be a precursor of a rise in public protest. Young people are more ready than other age groups to take direct political action. Micro-level evidence shows that ‘unfulfilled expectations’ with respect to one’s own perceived income potential is the strongest predictor of propensity to protest. Limiting protest action to a ‘healthy’ level that does not lead to a downward spiral of instability requires framing the growth agenda as a political imperative. Medium-term remedies may include raising the quality of education, entrenching a meritocratic system of remuneration and promoting broad-based innovation.
The social and political case for promoting economic growth and broad-based innovation in South Africa