Elite interactions for economic development : the case study of Durban.
Much debate has been raging in development discourse about the role of the state in development economics. Neo liberal theorists call for the state to remove itself from the process and leave markets to determine the direction of economic development. The challenge to this theory was reinforced by the success of the East Asian counties in encouraging economic development through a process which involved extensive state intervention. The process of globalisation has added a new dimension to this debate where states are increasingly feeling the need to take steps to protect their economies from the negative impacts of globalisation and take other steps so that the positive rewards can be reaped. The debate of this interaction between the state and economic forces is evident on all levels of governance, from the national to the local. Theorists such as Stone, Molotch, Logan and Stoker have researched this question on the local level in cities in the United States. They found that there is extensive interaction between political and economic bodies for the economic development of urban spaces. Specifically, these two major groups are represented by an elite grouping of individuals who play an important role in the planning and implementing of development initiatives. This study attempts to examine this relationship of the economic elite and political elite in the city of Durban. This is particularly relevant in the context of the critical need for economic development in the city and the mandate that the city is given by national legislation to promote such development. The study furthermore examines the extent to which the role players in this interaction are part of the post-Apartheid 'new' elite, or if the interactive process is still dominated by the 'old' white elite. The interactions were found to be limited to a 'project' basis which did not reflect a coalition in terms of the sharing of strategic decision making and planning. Furthermore, this process is dominated by the traditional white, corporate elite, although non-white individuals do have key roles in this process. There is however, a stark absence of a new non-white elite in the city who could emerge as an important force in encouraging development initiatives which will contribute to the economic development of the city. However, projects are been implemented that are being driven by individuals who are members of a economic or political elite grouping. These projects are based on a trickle down approach where the growth is presumed to filter down and positively affect the poorer members of Durban. There is a real possibility however, as various theorist have warned, that such projects currently being implemented by the elite in the city, might have limited positive benefits for the poor in the city , and could in fact have long term detrimental implications.