Betterment planning in South Africa.
Seneque, Garth Clement.
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Betterment Planning is the major form of rural development planning which has been implemented in the Reserve areas of South Africa. The first Bettemnent schemes were begun after 1939. Whilst Betterment Planning has undergone certain modifications in theory and implementation over the past 42 years, it is still being implemented by the 'homeland' governments. This paper is of necessity only a preliminary study or working paper, the aim of which is to explore the theoretical and concrete issues which a comprehensive evaluation of Betterment Planning would need to confront in detail. I have chosen to analyse Betterment Planning for a number of reasons. First, whilst preparing a report on settlement patterns in KwaZu1u/Natal for the Buthelezi Commission early in 1981, I found that there was very little published material on Betterment Planning. Further, in the course of this research, I was surprised to find that practising planners and academics in Natal seemed to know little about it. Second, reports on development planning for the homelands ignore Betterment Planning entirely. For example, the "Towards a Plan for KwaZulu" (1978) makes no mention what soever of the Betterment Planning in KwaZulu, let alone undertakes an analysis of the successes/failures of its implementation. Yet it stresses that: "the reform and development of the agricultural sector should be accorded the highest priority. Failure to make progress in this area will jeopardise all the objectives of the Plan." (Thorrington-Smith et al 1978 : 22). To undertake rural development planning without an analysis and understanding as to why it is necessary, can only result in the proposed plans being at best superficial and, at worst, ones which exacerbate the problem they set out to solve. All too often development planning is nothing more than problem-solving oriented: the problem is identified and described, and the planners put forward a solution to solve it. However, for a solution to have even a chance of being successfully implemented, the causes and history of the problem must be fully analysed and understood. It is just as crucial to analyse and evaluate previous attempted solutions to the problem. For, in failing, they may have become additional constraints, i.e. in themselves the previous solutions may have become part of the problem. Third, most of the homelands are politically 'semi-independent' or 'independent'. They have their own agriculture and planning departments which have realized that rural development is a priority in any homeland development. Consequently in recent years, these homelands have been looking for new rural development strategies. In the light of my second point above, it is therefore important that Betterment Planning is analysed and evaluated. Fourth, the writings of neo-Marxist and Marxist theoreticians on South Africa have almost completely failed to address the role and function of Betterment Planning in the transformation of the South African social formation. Most of their attention has been focussed on the white agricultural areas.