n Journal of Public Administration - Realising developmental local government in a developmental state

Volume 46, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The notion of developmental local government has become part of the South African local government dispensation as from the year 2000. According to Smith and Vawda (2003:28) the idea of developmental local government (DLG) emerged from the fusion of the social interventionist goals of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and the market-driven economic strategies of the Growth Employment and Redistribution policy (GEAR); the two main national policies of the post-apartheid era for addressing economic growth and poverty eradication. The RDP and GEAR represented different visions for how to bring about equity and redistribution in a deeply divided state and economy. In itself South Africa as a state has 283 municipalities which are wall to wall in terms of demarcation. The notion of developmental local government becomes more complex if it has to be realised within what can be regarded as a developmental state. The idea of developmental state can be traced from a number of antecedent sources and histories.

In South Africa, the accounts of the developmental state are explicitly used in an attempt to elaborate it by specifying its preconditions, characteristics or constitutive elements. That eventually lead to simulating what other states elsewhere in the world have achieved as developmental states. It is presented in this article that the notion of developmental local government provided a unique policy framework for the local government sphere of government. The manner in which developmental local government is conceptualised in South Africa provides a realm for the shaping of a developmental state. The argument put forward is that for South Africa to contextualise its form of developmental state, it must be based on its contextualisation of developmental local government. The notion of developmental local government is presented as having attempted to reflect the characterisation of "developmental" within the South African context. The proposed paradigm or model will enable South Africa to contextualise its systems from the notion of a polycentric bottom up approach in contextualising a developmental state as it has been applied elsewhere in the world.

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