Professor Chalmers Ashby Johnson, a renowned American author, is well known for inventing the concept of the developmental state. For him, a state of development occurs when the state plays an important role in the growth and development of the economy and takes the necessary political measures to achieve this long-term goal.
In this regard, the countries of Southeast Asia (called Asian Tigers), such as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and South Korea, are good examples of nations that, in the context of of a developing state, succeed (though not perfectly) ushered in economic growth and recovery.
They moved away from the orthodox development policies of Bretton Woods and adopted a Weberian approach, which consists of ingenious and efficient, internal and interdependent bureaucratic systems (concept of strong and capable public service).
There is no doubt that the Asian Tigers are the best practice to follow for the countries of the world, especially those in Africa. The continent has examples of countries that have followed suit, including Ghana, Botswana and Rwanda, which have been recognized as having pursued the development trajectory with some success (although not perfect).
In our case, in sub-Saharan Africa, the notion of a developing state has been a hubbub for almost 20 years, from politicians, particularly the ANC and senior officials. They continue to say that South Africa is running with the noble agenda of a developing state and sometimes declaring the country as such.
This is a vague concept in our case because of the lack of evidence, at least in our contextual discourse and in the literature in general, of what is meant by concept. However, politicians and officials use this term with confidence, despite the vague meaning attributed to it, in our context. Despite the lack of consensus on what this means in the case of South Africa, it nevertheless found expression in the country's most important political documents.
For example, around 2000, the ANC adopted what it called the local development government, which was proclaimed revolutionary and necessary to build the capacity of the local government sphere to serve local communities. However, the results unfortunately reveal the opposite in our local municipalities. Nearly 60% of municipalities are in a desperate situation in the Eastern Cape region. These are the shocking revelations from the MEC on economic development, Oscar Mabuyane, two months ago, that most municipal CFOs are under-qualified for this position.
The New Growth Path (2010), for example, said it would reduce unemployment by creating at least 500,000 jobs by 2020 and that this would help South Africa respond to structural problems. of inequality, poverty and unemployment. You can be the judge if, indeed, these jobs are created over the next two years, not to mention helping to reduce our structural problems.
In addition, Chapter 13 of the National Development Plan (NDP) states that social and economic transformation is impossible without an able and developing state. This policy document therefore lays out this fuzzy concept as fundamental to the country's growth strategy.
More generally, the goal of development is seen as a necessary remedy for nations that suffer historical injustices of colonialism and apartheid in the case of South Africa, which continue to manifest themselves through poverty , inequalities and unemployment. In this context, I feel that the state largely lacks vision, leadership and ability to effect a radical transformation of society even in a short time.
To this end, and rightly so, Joel Natshitenzhe, in his 2015 article Class dynamics and state transformation in SA, we implore that, as many countries have done, the program of the state engine of development is based on the political will of the government, which, as I have indicated, does not. does not exist under the leadership of South Africa, let alone a commitment. While, in the above-mentioned policy documents, we are a country in search of a development agenda, in reality there is in fact no indication of new industries created or promoted by the state as part of efforts to to achieve this noble goal. Instead of promoting industrial policies, our government plays a rather weak regulatory role.
The AS requires leadership that anticipates and not influenced by a capital interest (which unfortunately does not exist), which is to use fiscal and monetary policies to direct the ownership and control by the state of industries and key sectors of the economy. Due to its lack of judgment and lack of leadership for nearly 25 years, the country continues to take for granted that the successful development trajectory in most countries was, among other things, focused on a strong, professional public service competent and competent. We have unfortunately turned a deaf ear to building a strong, professional and competent state capable of leading and supporting economic growth and development through effective state entities that can lead to initiatives. strategic investments. In other words, as a "country claiming to pursue a development agenda", we do not have the necessary mechanisms and instruments, such as a professional and highly skilled bureaucracy, to manage our development agenda. Do not get me wrong, we have a highly qualified and highly qualified staff in South Africa, that's for sure, but it's not part of the public service, and for me it's a hindrance to any targeted and objective rational development project. . agenda.
Finally, our state entities are expected to play a central role in the transformation and conduct of this development agenda. However, they are overwhelmed by poor governance, poor management and corruption is inevitable. Unfortunately for me, this hampers their effective role in driving the development agenda. It is no coincidence that these companies need from time to time the rescue of national treasures. To this end, discussions took place in this speech, emanating in part from government circles: it is not viable to procure state-owned enterprises, so the solution is privatization.
The incumbent Minister of Finance fully supports this prospect of privatization. However, there is strong opposition to privatization, I can bet that the new administration led by President Cyril Ramaphosa will privatize decisively some state-owned companies such as Eskom, SAA and Transnet. It may of course be that he now rejects the point of view of electoral calculus, but he will end up adhering to it, I suppose, for private capital, which will prevent the state from intervening strategically and directing it. economy in the pursuit of the development program.
• Sibiya is a Ph.D. candidate at Wits University's Center for Research on Training and Work. He writes personally.