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Democracy, Poverty and Inclusive Growth in South Africa since 1994

Year: 2013
Working paper number: 321
Author: Seekings, Jeremy
Unit: SSU
The formal establishment of representative democracy in South Africa provided a weak impetus to effective pro-poor policy-making. Poverty and inequality (of both opportunities and outcomes) have persisted. Political parties want to be seen as being pro-poor, but there is insufficient competition within the electoral system to ensure that the governing party adopts or implements many effective pro-poor policies. The poor have been unable to use their votes to counter the powerful vested interests of the new black elite and middle classes, organised labour, and (unevenly) capital. Progressive technocrats and bureaucrats have implemented a variety of pro-poor reforms – including especially the expansion of social grants – in the face of skepticism among some senior ANC leaders. But many other reforms have been blocked by powerful vested interests (including, in many cases, organized labour). Direct action and social movement organisations have achieved limited pro-poor gains in the delivery of some services, but have had not changed the underlying patterns of distribution and redistribution.
Publication file: WP 321.pdf