Development Planning in South Africa

Provincial Policy and State Power in the Eastern Cape

John Reynolds


The first empirical study of the inner workings of South Africa's dysfunctional policy development process, exposing the challenges of large-scale policy overhaul and the frictions at the heart of the South African state.

Celebrated as a beacon of democracy and reconciliation, many people in South Africa continue to live in severe poverty, particularly in the Eastern Cape Province. Backed by the United Nations Development Programme, the Eastern Cape's provincial government consequently launched an historically ambitious programme – the Provincial Growth and Development Plan – aimed at tackling the province's poverty, unemployment and inequality over a ten-year period in a radical policy overhaul.

Drawing on the author’s first-hand engagement with the planning process, Development Planning in South Africa is an empirically rich study that utilises a strategic-relational approach to explore the ways in which this unprecedented challenge was negotiated and eventually undermined by the South African state.

The first work of its kind, the book provides an indispensable micro-level study with profound implications for how state power is understood to be organised and expressed in state policy. Relevant beyond South Africa to policy implementation in both developing and developed states globally, the book is essential reading for students and scholars of government studies, political economy, development, policy studies and social movements.

Author Bio

John Reynolds is the founding head of the Neil Aggett Labour Studies Unit (NALSU) in the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Rhodes University. His extensive experience in the Eastern Cape has included work for the United Nations Development Programme, the Eastern Cape Provincial Government, and on development programmes financed by the European Union.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1 The State and State Policy: A Theoretical Perspective
  • 2. The Post-apartheid South African State and Economy
  • 3. Overview of the Provincial Growth and Development Planning Process
  • 4. Provincial Government Political Priorities 2002–2004
  • 5. Preparing for the Writing of the PGDP Strategy Framework
  • 6. Development of the PGDP Strategy Framework
  • 7. Developing PGDP Programmes and Gearing for Implementation
  • Conclusion


'Development Planning in South Africa shines powerful new light on the multi-layered relations of power that limited and undermined a seemingly promising initiative to break the chains of poverty and inequality in the Eastern Cape.'
Gillian Hart, University of Berkeley

‘Reynolds’s compelling policy analysis of the Eastern Cape illustrates how a sophisticated, strategically sensitive approach can explain the limits on state power in challenging the logic and rule of capital in post-apartheid, neoliberal South Africa.’
Bob Jessop, Lancaster University

'An analytically sound, comprehensive treatment of the planning process in the Eastern Cape that gives the reader a case study and general insights about how and why development programmes fail. Not to be missed.'
John Weeks, School for Oriental and African Studies

'A fascinating account of the policy process in a developing country. The author’s “insider” perspective gives the analysis a particular originality and depth of understanding. Useful for undergraduate and postgraduate students of political economy and development.'
Janet Cherry, Nelson Mandela University

'A comprehensive and meticulous discussion of the evolution of a far-reaching, ultimately failed, provincial development plan. Focussing on a discursive analysis, Reynolds records how the social content got burnished away, neoliberal economic prerogatives came to the fore and the government placed to the fore mega-interventions that could make the state look good in obvious ways.'
Bill Freund, University of KwaZulu-Natal


Publication Date: 15 December 2019
288 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786991638
Hardback: 9781786991645
eBook ePub: 9781786991669
eBook PDF: 9781786991652
eBook Kindle: 9781786991676

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