Stephan du Toit Viljoen

Stephan P. du Toit Viljoen (28 June 1901, Caledon – 11 May 1993, Pretoria) was a South African academic economist and public servant who served as a professor and the Head of the Department of Economics at the University of Pretoria from 1938 to 1949 (Mouton 1994, 161) and President of the Free Market Foundation from 1977 to 1981 (Free Market 1983, 28). In 1977, he was also Chairman of the Bantu Investment Corporation and the Bank of Lisbon (today Mercantile Bank) (Barrell 1977).

Du Toit Viljoen was “a firm believer in free enterprise as the most advantageous economic system” and recognized prices “as the prime regulating force in the economy” (Mouton 1994, 163).

Du Toit Viljoen was born in Caledon, Cape Province (today the Western Cape) on 28 June 1901 as the third child of a local farmer. He matriculated from high school in 1919 and went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from the University of Cape Town in 1923 (Mouton 1994, 161). Between 1924 and 1925, he studied under Prof. Werner Sombart at the University of Berlin and went on to spend a year at the law faculty at the University of Paris. From 1927 to 1928, he completed his doctorate at the London School of Economics under the supervision of Prof. Hugh Dalton (Communike 1992, 14-15).

In 1929, Du Toit Viljoen joined the University of Pretoria as a senior lecturer in economics (Mouton 1994, 163). His first textbook, The Economic Tendencies of Today, was published by P.S. King & Son in London in 1933 (Du Toit Viljoen 1933).

He became a professor in 1936 and published his second textbook, The Economics of Primitive Peoples, in the same year, through Staples Press, London. Du Toit Viljoen went on to become the Head of the Department of Economics at UP, a role in which he served between 1938 and 1949 (Mouton 1994, 163).

Following his tenure at UP, he became a member of the Board of Trade and Industries (today, the International Trade Administration Commission [Holmes 2014]) and later the Chairman of the Wage Board.

In 1952, Du Toit Viljoen published Capitalism: A Historical Survey through the Hollandsch-Afrikaansche Uitgevers Maatshappij (HAUM) in Cape Town. This book traced “the evolution of the free market economy from the medieval corporate economy up to the period of late capitalism […] and ends with a critical discussion of the early socialist systems of the first half of [the] century” (Mouton 1994, 162). In 1966, he was appointed Chairman of the Water Commission.

He returned to the Board of Trade and Industries in 1962 to serve as deputy chairman and chairman, until he retired in 1965. During his time at the Board, he became known for two investigations: one “into tariff protection policy” and the other on “the introduction of a scheme for the development of the motor industry from a more or less assembly operation to a truly local manufacturing industry”. In the case of the first investigation, Du Toit Viljoen “was mainly responsible for the formulation of the principles ultimately accepted as criteria for evaluating the merits, or otherwise, of applications for tariff assistance” (Mouton 1994, 163).

Du Toit Viljoen became an honorary professor at the University of South Africa after his retirement and joined various companies as a director (Mouton 1994, 161).

He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of South Africa in 1971 and the University of Pretoria in 1986 (Mouton 1994, 163)

His final book, Economic Systems in World History, was published by Longman in 1974, which covered “most of the contents of his three previous books” (Mouton 1994, 162). In it, “[h]e firmly rejected excessive and unnecessary interferences by a central authority as authoritarian and incompatible with a free enterprise economy” and regarded “the maintenance of personal and economic freedom” as a more fundamental question (Mouton 1994, 163). Du Toit Viljoen was President of the Johannesburg classical liberal think tank, the Free Market Foundation, between 1977 and 1981.

Du Toit Viljoen died in Pretoria, Transvaal Province, on 11 May 1993 at 92 years of age (Mouton 1994, 161).

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