Debate from ROAPE Volume 34 Number 113
Pro-poor Budgeting & South Africa's ‘Developmental State’
South African policy makers nowadays phrase their policies in the ‘developmental state’ discourse, thus following President Thabo Mbeki who is the leading advocate of this notion. Allies of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in the Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) specifically support the pro-poor thrust of this discourse. Official statements and documents explaining the importance of the ‘developmental state’ to combat South Africa's high levels of poverty and unemployment extensively cite the East Asian success stories. However, a closer examination of this embrace of the ‘developmental state’ reveals an uncritical adoption and ambivalent understanding of a concept that is ostensibly pro-poor. To understand this ‘new’ discourse and what it means in concrete anti-poverty actions on the part of the state, we critically appraise the pro-poor elements articulated in the 2007-08 national budget.