n Africanus - South Africa’s journey towards a democratic developmental state - research

Volume 49 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0304-615X



This article analyses key policies and documents, which form the basis of democratic South Africa’s desire to becoming a developmental state. In order to understand the notion of a developmental state, I provide a discussion on the theoretical foundations of the concept by drawing on examples from other countries (such as the Asian Tigers) that have embarked on a journey to become developmental states. Through a comparative analysis, and by probing the National Development Plan (NDP), as well as the work of the National Planning Commission (NPC) broadly, I examine South Africa’s prospects of becoming a developmental state. To this effect, I argue that although the foundation that was laid for South Africa to become a democratic developmental state (DDS) was relatively solid, South Africa has veered far away from becoming a developmental state any time soon. But, given the existing institutional architecture, as well as an assessment of developmental outcomes, it would seem that South Africa can still become a viable developmental state—although South Africa has lost many of the salient attributes of developmental states. It is also worth highlighting that it was always going to be difficult for South Africa to become a developmental state because of the political and economic history of the country. The article makes suggestions with regard to what could be done to ensure that South Africa becomes a viable, fully-fledged, democratic developmental state.

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