Recalibrating South Africa’s Political Economy: Challenges in Building a Developmental and Competition State

by Paul Thompson and Henry Wissink

Abstract

This article is situated at the cusp of debates raging in South Africa in which the delivering of a democratic developmental state is amongst the priorities of the African National Congress (ANC) led government. Thus, the narrative on South Africa’s developmental path has taken predominantly a singular approach, which is either the developmental state or the neo-liberalism approach, without considering the intertwining of both concepts. This article goes beyond the regular discourse and introduces the “competition state” concept to the South African economic development discourse. The central objective is to articulate some of the obstacles encountered in the building of a combined developmental and “competition state.” The study findings reveal that notwithstanding an admixture of policies, legislations, and strategies being pursued by the Government of South Africa, policy objectives have not been fully realised due to a myriad of structural and socio-political factors.

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Paul Thompson is a post-doctoral research fellow, and Henry Wissink, a professor of Public Governance in the
School of Management, IT and Governance at the University of KwaZulu- Natal.