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Investigating the progression of South Africa’s developmental state through the Black Industrialist Programme.

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South Africa has made considerable progress in terms of economic development since the dawn of democracy in 1994. However, the pace and distribution of that progress have not been equitably reflected across all demographics, especially between blacks and white. With a decline of manufacturing, the ‘developmental state’ has featured as a strong theme in the ruling African National Congress's discourse to try and reignite industrialisation in the country. Under this framework, one of the policies driven by the South African government is the Black Industrialist Programme that aims to increase the manufacturing output whilst empowering black people. This research article investigates this programme as an industrialisation vehicle and seeks to understand its contribution to advancing South Africa’s developmental state framework. The study employed qualitative research methods using open-ended interviews for primary data; documents collected from various sources for secondary data. The study draws from the rich existing body of literature on the developmental state and compares it with the series of overarching policy initiatives that have been enacted in South Africa. It uses the framework of the developmental state to investigate whether BIP is positioned to reignite South Africa’s industrialisation. Findings show that the BIP policy will have an impact as its funding model is a significant shift from past practices by assisting aspiring industrialists through grants and preferential procurement measures. However, the study argues that the shift from focusing on general industrialisation to narrowing it to black industrialisation brings with it new constraints in advancing a developmental state. Using race to promote a course towards industrialisation will have long-term detrimental effects, and also the ruling party’s cadre deployment policy, challenges with education and skills training, and economic planning imperatives will all militate against the assumed positive impact of the BIP. The research concludes that the programme will contribute to the developmental state concept's progress but will be limited in praxis because the state does not possess a holistic overarching economic developmental plan. The study contributes to the analytical discourse of developmental states by offering context-specific analysis in industrialisation paths for societies addressing racial, economic inequality.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.