n Journal of Public Administration - Theorising a democratic developmental state : issues of public service delivery planning and violent protests in South Africa

Volume 47, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



South Africa's impoverished settlements have in recent years been increasingly beset by violent protests that are, allegedly, about service delivery. However, the majority of these violent protests have paradoxically occurred exclusively in impoverished settlements where some services were delivered, disrupting the underlying infrastructure and existing services. Thus, the root causes of these violent protests remain contested, with views ranging from those that accept them as services-based to those portraying them as politically-motivated. This article analyses the service delivery planning approaches to distil the implications of the decisions as to which services are delivered or not delivered, and to theoretically situate the reasons underlying South Africa's violent "alleged" service delivery protests. It demonstrates that South Africa has adopted a regulatory planning approach which emphasises the attainment of "the optimal allocation of resources between all of the competing needs or uses within a society", leading therefore to the delivery of "impure public goods" for poor communities. The article argues that the advocacy planning approach is more suited to the impoverished settlements because it attempts to mobilise and channel resources to new or neglected uses, achieving in the process the legitimisation of new social objectives or a major re-alignment of existing objectives. Whereas the regulatory approach enforces reliance on private markets, the advocacy approach instigates for "the planner (who) represents the interests of a particular social group", with allegiances and responsibility solely dedicated to its needs.

The article asserts that the advocacy planning approach would ensure that service delivery for impoverished settlements allows for equal access for all in terms of quality and quantity in accordance with four fundamental principles of 'joint-supply', 'non-rivalness', 'non-excludability' and 'non-rejectability'. The article concludes that South Africa's service delivery planning approach lacks a 'public entrepreneur' who would ensure that state agencies commit infrastructure expenditure to underpin the delivery of services as 'pure public goods'. Theoretically, the article claims that the decisions as to which services are delivered or not delivered are at the core of the reasons for the recent violent protests.

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