New York Times: How Mandela Shifted Views on Freedom of Markets
When you think about Nelson Mandela, you probably think about freedom — free people, free country, free speech. What may be overshadowed by Mr. Mandela’s extraordinary legacy was his complicated journey to support free markets and a free economy.
When Mr. Mandela was released from prison in 1990, he told his followers in the African National Congress that he believed in the nationalization of South Africa’s main businesses. “The nationalization of the mines, banks and monopoly industries is the policy of the A.N.C., and a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable,” he said at the time.
Two years later, however, Mr. Mandela changed his mind, embracing capitalism, and charted a new economic course for his country.
The story of Mr. Mandela’s evolving economic view is eye-opening: It happened in January 1992 during a trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Mr. Mandela was persuaded to support an economic framework for South Africa based on capitalism and globalization after a series of conversations with other world leaders.
“They changed my views altogether,” Mr. Mandela told Anthony Sampson, his friend and the author of “Mandela: The Authorized Biography.” “I came home to say: ‘Chaps, we have to choose. We either keep nationalization and get no investment, or we modify our own attitude and get investment.”
Inside South Africa, Mr. Mandela’s quick reversal was viewed with skepticism, and questions have long persisted about whether he was somehow pressured by the West to open up the country’s economy.
However, according to Tito Mboweni, a former governor of the South African Reserve Bank, who accompanied Mr. Mandela to Davos, Mr. Mandela’s change of heart was genuine. ...