The developmental state in South Africa has become a matter of great
concern and urgency to all practitioners at the three spheres of government.
The government has, since its inception in 1994, promoted economic
growth and development through a variety of mechanisms, including policy
implementation and the promulgation of legislation. In the local sphere of
government provision has been made for national and provincial intervention
to maintain the national standards of service delivery. However, since 2004 the
protests, sometime violent, against the inability of municipalities to deliver their
services have increased exponentially.
This article argues that realising the developmental state cannot be considered
without taking into account both the social origin of the concept as well as its
bureaucratic content. The spate of violent confrontations between municipalities
and communities led to renewed calls for an interventionist and distributive state.
However, the balance between developmentalism, interventionism and democracy
has to be maintained. The new developmental state is one where equal emphasis
is given to the concepts development through performance, managerial, technical
and bureaucratic efficiency and effectiveness and institutional rationalisation and
transformation, while maintaining the democracy which provides a voice for
the poor and marginalised, protects and accrues the rights of citizens, promotes
institutional separation of powers and functions, transparent decision making,
accountability and effective monitoring and control.