n Journal of Public Administration - Political economy of development, strategy and sustainable development

Volume 48, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



It is always important to engage in a discussion on a subject as important as the political economy of development, strategy and sustainable development. This is because the future of prosperity depends on how we handle this important matter as we respond to the exigencies of the contemporary reality. The question of national income and distribution has always been an important aspect of humanity, which, in 1776, Adam Smith cogently packaged into a book, . The impact of this publication in disciplining the contemporary discourse on the political economy is profound, from which scholars and intellectuals of different persuasions draw important insights. As some may ask, why do I even make reference to an ideological scholar or intellectual? Isn't that a scholar or an intellectual should not be of a particular ideological orientation? This question is important. It affords us an opportunity to, at the outset, clarify it as it is often loosely asked with misconceptions that a scholar or an intellectual is an "absolutely isolated individual" (Horkheimer, 1947:137).

The answer to the question about the ideological orientation of a scholar or an intellectual, as asked above, is a question: Is there anything wrong with ideology? In his article on , Maserumule (2012:183) argues that "ideology can also be of epistemological value", hence Marxism and Leninism, for example, evolved into a body of political theory used as analytical frameworks to make sense of the political economy of the contemporary realities. So, as Horkheimer, (1947) put it in his book, , the concept of an "absolutely isolated individual [is an] illusion". Our take on the issue of the dialogue is inevitably disciplined by the context of our ideological disposition, not as ideologues, but as scholars and intellectuals committed to multiple truths. I just thought it is important to make this point to contextualise the ideational embeddeness of this contribution, which seeks to preface the SA-US dialogue on such an important issue as the political economy of public policy. Our own truth on this aspect would be enriched by the truth of our visitors from the US.
This contribution is based on the address I delivered, welcoming the US delegation, in my capacity as the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane. The address was subsequently developed into a scholarly contribution to the political economy discourse on public policy. The delegation came to South Africa to participate in a roundtable discussion with eminent South African scholars and intellectuals - an event co-hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA). This contribution starts by clarifying the conceptual aspects that undergird the theme of the dialogue. This is followed by a reflective analysis on the political economy and policy development, where the nexus between the two is enunciated. For contextual reasons, the discussion draws insights from Adam Smith and Karl Marx, but also, more importantly, take into consideration the contributions of other scholars to the discourse on political economy such as Amartya Sen. This takes the discourse to the political economy of public policy development in the new South Africa. Towards the end conclusions are made, with important questions asked, for consideration in future dialogue on this important aspect.

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