The South African economy experienced slowing economic growth in the late 1970s, as a result
of the international economic recession and the oil crisis of the early 1970s, and the system of
apartheid was declared a crime against humanity in 1973. The 1970s saw the country experiencing
renewed industrial and collective mass action, most notably the Durban strikes of 1973 and the
student uprisings of 1976. The Wiehahn Commission was established in 1977 to respond to
African labour militancy through a reconstruction of the then dual labour relations framework.
The Commission’s stated goals were the stabilisation of labour relations and the facilitation of
economic growth. This reform process led to the liberalisation of labour legislation in South Africa
and additionally to the inclusion of African trade unions into the state collective bargaining
system, provided these unions registered. By positioning itself within the ‘School of Continuity’,
the paper disputes the notion of the discontinuation of colonialism as a result of the ‘Democratic
transition’ of 1994, by proposing that this transition was but a logical progression of colonial social
engineering achieved through the co‐optation of African labour in the 1970s. The research
proposes that the Wiehahn Commission succeeded in creating a Black middle class that continues
to act as a buffer from the rest of the African population. In addition, the long‐term objectives of
the apartheid state were fulfilled with the institutionalisation of the Growth, Employment and
Redistribution macroeconomic policy of 1996.
Mini Dissertation (MSocSci (History))--University of Pretoria, 2020.