Why Corporatism Collapsed in South Africa: The Significance of NEDLAC

Yejoo Kim, Janis van der Westhuizen


The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) was established as a corporatist institution, defined as a representative and consensus-seeking body coordinating to reach agreement through negotiation and discussion involving the state, organised business, and organised labour. It signalled the equal participation of the state and societal actors in the decision-making process in democratic South Africa. However, after two decades, NEDLAC is facing questions regarding its relevance. The imbalance in the power dynamics diminished the power of labour to bargain vis-à-vis the state and business. Labour’s inability to represent a broader constituency beyond the formally employed, the lack of technical capacity within the labour movement, and NEDLAC’s organisational inefficiency negatively affected the corporatist institution, which is now on the verge of demise.

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