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A South African Developmental State? The Need to Overcome Incapacity and Pursue Embedded Autonomy in the 21st Century; - AND - On the Fringes: Housing Policy, Urban Slums, and the Necessity for a New Direction in South Africa

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1) In the years leading up to and immediately following the African National Congress’ landslide victory in the country’s first truly democratic elections, much anticipation and hope about South Africa’s future were held by all. However, despite its transition to democracy and departure from the institutionalized racism of apartheid in 1994, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in today’s global system. This essay explores the applicability of the developmental state framework given South Africa’s unique history and circumstances, considering arguments that assert South Africa can become a developmental state in spite of its deficiencies and arguments that argue against such assertions. This essay aligns with the former, arguing that while South Africa suffers extreme deficiencies that currently preclude it from becoming a 21st century developmental state, this does not mean that it can never become one. 2) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) enshrines the right to adequate housing, a concept that includes attributes such as security of tenure, protection from eviction, availability of services, and affordability. Since 1948, globalization and industrialization have ignited increasingly intense rural-to-urban migrations that strain cities’ abilities to house people. In South Africa, urban slums are prominent features of cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. Since 1994, the African National Congress has battled to deliver housing to the poorest of South African citizens, but evidence shows that its efforts, mandated by national housing policies, are failing. This essay investigates this failure by examining the neoliberal underpinnings of South Africa’s various housing policies and exploring the arguments of two camps in the literature – one that argues for greater inclusion of slum communities and one that argues for a more enabling policy environment. Through this exploration, the essay suggests that a combination of these two approaches presents the best suited housing strategy for South Africa moving forward.
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