Thandi Modise, deputy secretary general of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa. She is also the current premier of the North West Province., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
ANC Viewpoint by Thandi Modise
Service delivery and a developmental state in South Africa
A research report of the World Bank named 'Entering the 21st century world development report 1999/2000 ushered us into the new millennium with a proposal for a Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) based on four areas of development, namely:
• Structural elements which include honest, competent governments committed to the fight against corruption and strong social safety net, among others.
• Human development which takes into account universal primary education, strong secondary and tertiary systems as well as a good health system.
• Physical concerns centre on the efficient provision of water and sewage, electricity, roads networks, preservation of cultural and historical sites as well as preservation of a physical environment.
• Sectoral elements which consider integrated rural development strategy, strong urban management approach and an enabling environment for the private sector.
While these serve to be global guides for development, countries are expected to provide their respective development frameworks in consideration of these issues and trends emanating from the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) of the World Bank. The development of National Spatial Development Frameworks, Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and Integrated Development Planning are relevant localized development plans for South Africa.
The centenary celebration of the African National Congress is being celebrated this year and the torch has been in various provinces including Limpopo. We have seen how our people are still confident that the ANC is still the party of their choice. The ANC was formed in 1912 to address colonialism which brought only the hardships of our people. Colonialism and apartheid brutalised black people, turning them into hostages to perennial hunger, related diseases, and strife and disorders.
In 1994, we saw the freedom and democracy that our forefathers had been fighting for. We are here today 18 years later witnessing that. One of the challenges the ANC had, when it ascended to power in 1994, was how to formulate workable solutions in response to the unfriendly global milieu and demanding domestic terrain that required decisive action to address the justifiably unmitigated expectations of the people of this country.
Since 1994, South Africa has done much to deal with the challenges of service delivery, e.g. through the government's then flagship economic programme, the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). At that time, the document asserted; "the democratic government must play a leading role in building an economy which offers to all South Africans the opportunity to contribute productively. All job creation programmes should cater particularly for women and youth and include representatives from women's and youth organisations" (RDP, 1994).
The decision to embark on a major transformation agenda was in large part informed by the imperative of truly liberating the majority of the people of South Africa.
The concept of developmental state in South Africa
In a 1998 ANC discussion document, The State, Property Relations and Social Transformation, the South African state's character was defined as developmental. The document said that "development is about improving the quality of life; it is about equity and justice...entails growing the economy…"??It made only passing reference to state capacity within the context of interventions to facilitate growth and development.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) alluded to the fact that the developmental state should be seen as providing essential social services, creating conditions to achieve development orientated growth, promoting redistribution and responding to market failure (SACP, 1998). Following that in 2005, in the National General Council (NGC), the ANC pronounced that its central task is that of building a developmental state with the strategic, organisational and technical capacity to advance the national democratic revolution.
Since 1994 our goal as a ruling party has been that of creating a better life for all by addressing the legacy of apartheid, colonialism and patriarchy, by achieving socio-economic transformation. The literature in terms of the concept of a developmental state is highly contested. But I will define the concept of a developmental state in terms of our topic today. Evan's (1995) defines developmental state concept as of 'embedded autonomy' co-operative governance praxis where the state as part of the society engages all the role players in the developmental processes, but remains independent of vested interest.
Mkandawire (2001) defines a developmental state as "social constructs brought about by states and societies". Gumede (2011) therefore made an analysis by defining a developmental state in terms of policy goals, institutional attributes and embedded autonomy. In 2007 52nd National Conference here in Polokwane, we then elaborated in the characterisation of a South African Developmental State knowing that the challenges we are facing of poverty, unemployment and equality cannot be addressed unless we see the state intervening in a great way.
The Strategy and Tactics document adopted at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC in December 2007 states, among others:
• have a democratic and legitimate state based on the values of our Constitution,
• promote unity in diversity among South Africans, recognising the common interests that bind them as a nation,
• ensure a growing economy which benefits all, including through the creation of decent jobs,
• be informed by a value system of mutual respect and human solidarity; and
• be led by a state that is efficient in providing services and which gives leadership to the programme of national development.
State intervention plays a major role in terms of growth, when the state seeks to create democratic developmental state.
State intervention in society and the economy to ensure the "common good"
• Upgrading public service skills.
• Development is about improving quality of life… about equity and justice.
• Development entails a growing economy in which redistribution is a critical element.
• The state role is also to ensure democracy and popular participation.
• Importance of democracy, justice and human rights.
• 'Strong state' with "intellectual resources to plan, monitor, and stimulate high growth".
• Mobilises and deploys capital into sectors unattractive to private industry.
• Challenges of poverty, high unemployment, and HIV/Aids.
The ANC has argued that the nature and the character of the strategic orientation of a South African developmental state should be characterised by "people-centred and driven change, sustained development based on the high growth rates, restructuring of the economy and socio-economic inclusion". The organisational capacity of the state refers to structures and administrative systems capable of facilitating the realisation of a common national agenda as determined through various strategic means employed in its definition.
The technical capacity is concerned with the amount of expertise and skills available critically important in translating "broad objectives onto programmes and projects to ensure their implementation" (ANC, 2007). The ANC policy conference of June this year unambiguously recommended greater State participation in the economy, consistent with the developmental State agenda of the movement adopted in its 52nd Elective conference in December 2007.
The concept of the developmental state has been practised in so called "Asian Tigers" of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, being the most notable. Hong Kong and Singapore became world-leading international financial centres, whereas South Korea and Taiwan became world leaders in manufacturing information technology in the period between the 1960s and 1990s. The Tigers experienced decades of supercharged growth based largely on industrial policies supporting exports to developed countries of the northern hemisphere.
The developmental state in South Africa has the objective of actively intervening in the economy to drive investment in targeted areas to achieve a long term vision of a higher value added, labour absorptive and racially integrated economy. As government we have the capability of constructing a developmental state that is also able to root out poverty, deliver quality services, fight corruption, improve access to quality education, ensure economic growth, and create more jobs in the economy.
As a country we are facing significant economic challenges, we need to accelerate the growth rate to create wealth that enhances the standard of living for all South Africans; dramatically that will increase employment creation; develop industrial capabilities to decrease the country's dependence on commodity exports; and transform the ownership and management profile of the economy to reflect that of the broader South African population.
Since 2009, the Planning Commission was established and it identified nine main service delivery and development challenges facing South Africa. These are:
• A highly limited number of working people (which means that a larger proportion is receiving social grants).
• A quality and standard of education for the low-income households is not at acceptable levels.
• Infrastructure that is able to support the level of economic growth our country deserves.
• Exclusion of the poor people from accessing economic and employment opportunities.
• An overly resource intensive economy.
• The challenges of the entire public health care system.
• Lack, insufficient and/or poor quality of public services.
• Understand and adhere to high moral and ethical standards as enshrined in our beloved 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
• The need to facilitate and foster social cohesion and a united South Africa
The South African Developmental Plan
Our government recently adopted a New Growth Path and set specific targets that must be met to grow the economy, create jobs and improve the living conditions of the majority of South Africans. The NGP was also taken on board when government developed and released the National Development Plan Vision 2030, which is also about increasing employment, eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.
The NGP highlights the crucial role played by state-owned development finance institutions (DFIs) in creating jobs, raising shared economic growth and enabling pro-poor expansion of infrastructure. The contribution of DFIs has been under the spotlight due to the recent global financial crisis and the subsequent stunted economic growth, heavy job losses and factory closures. There has also been renewed public pressure for increased public service delivery, as well as the constant urgent imperative to accelerate equitable economic development.
The NGP emphasises that we need to be facilitating the continuous emergence of concrete compacts between government and private interests to pursue specific projects that will take us closer to the achievement of our national goals. The National Development Plan therefore places us on a forward looking trajectory and requires all of us, not just Government, to commit to concrete programmes that will improve the lives of the South African people.
To this extent, the National Development Plan becomes a framework within which the current efforts to construct a South African developmental state are being anchored. The institutions of higher learning should come on board on producing graduates that will make difference in the public sector, the NDP emphasises this point and states that; "higher education is the major driver of the information/knowledge system, linking it with economic development".
The institutions of higher learning are pivotal to developing a nation. They produce new knowledge, critique information and find new local and global applications of the existing knowledge. They also set norms and standards, ethics and philosophy underpinning a nation's knowledge capital. Scott (2008) cautions us on the development failure which constitutes five different types of failure which are:
• Institutional failure occurs when organisations do not implement the services for which they are responsible.
• Capacity failure is generally due to a lack of appropriate skills in the public institutions managing development.
• Origination failure arises when the public and market players fail to originate innovative ideas for development, or to fashion an appropriate development vision, and are generally risk averse.
• Information failure exists when there is failure to overcome information asymmetry between the role players in development, which is necessary for coordinating investment between the private and public sectors.
• Failure to facilitate strategic partnerships means failure to establish a development partnership for growth between the public and private sectors.
In order to respond appropriately to these issues, I would like to propose that students of public administration and development studies pay attention to the following two main variables, namely; society and government institutions.
Society as a first variable
A basic assumption in this case is to make an argument regarding how the society has organised itself to address its service delivery and development needs. From a policy perspective, one would ask: who sets the community service delivery and development agenda? This question is based on the presumption in this lecture that the agenda should be set by the society itself as all efforts on the suggested service delivery must address community needs (service delivery and development).
The establishment of political structures in the cases of political parties or community based organisations serves as an example of the organised societies to address its needs and challenges. Usually, the purpose of the popular formations within communities is not mainly to pressure government to render services, but also understand from the societal point of view their respective challenges.
In this regard, popular participation in influencing decisions and choices of government is an essential part of the societal formations (such as CBOs and NGOs). The social contract in this case serves as a facilitator of need satisfaction by government to the community. In democratic countries such as South Africa, a constitution serves to represent the social contract between the government and its people.
In many circumstances, popular formations tend to keep the government of the day at checks on the basis of whether the social contract is realised or not. Martin Luther King Jr in one of his prominent speeches mentioned that 'a time comes when silence is betrayal'. This articulation is captured well on what should be understood to be the role of relevant stakeholders in questioning the conditions of living for communities.
Questioning is also accompanied by taking responsibilities to provide practical and workable solutions to those questions and ideals.
Government institutions as a second variable
Usually, when political parties, are elected into power, they form a government. This is usually undertaken through legislative processes of ensuring that Parliament elects the President who is tasked to establish his Cabinet or a government. This process is clearly outlined in Chapters four and five of the Constitution of 1996 which prescribes the composition of Parliament and the Cabinet.
The establishment of a Cabinet (government) is a precursor to a formation of government departments. This process takes place at all spheres of government including local government. The realisation of government's goals of service delivery and development therefore depends much on the coordination of activities of politicians and public servants. This is because, while services delivery is not an end in itself, so is electioneering. These two issues (electioneering and service delivery) are processes of realising the improvement of the lives of the society and thereby addressing development challenges.
The role of government institutions is key on these service delivery and development issues since it is at this stage that government capacity is sourced out which determines whether services are provided or not, which services should be provided and the pace of service provision, among others. Attempts are assessed at this stage on whether delivery is on the basis of societal needs, electoral mandate or any other agenda.
Achieving a developmental state must be demonstrated through commitment to economic growth, eradication of poverty and reduction of inequality, creating jobs, and eradicating crime and corruption. The targets set in both the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan, however, can only be met if issues of good governance in general and corruption in particular are addressed successfully.
Thandi Modise is the ANC Deputy Secretary General and Premier of the North West Province.