Promoting liberalism in post-apartheid South Africa: How liberal politicians in the Democratic Alliance approach social welfare
Year: 2019 Working paper number: 438 Author:Courtney Hallink Unit: CSSR
South African liberals find themselves in a particularly challenging context for the promotion of a political ideology that promotes the centrality of the market in the maximisation of individuals’ well-being. This paper examines how self-identified liberal politicians in South Africa adapt liberalism to the country’s ideological, political and socio-economic context in order to tackle the challenges of poverty and unemployment through social welfare. It relies on data collected from semi-structured interviews with 17 Members of Parliament (MPs) and party officials in the Democratic Alliance (DA). It also draws from content analysis of official party documents. The paper demonstrates that South African liberals recognise that the context in which they are operating requires a more concerted effort from the state in the realisation of individuals’ minimum well-being. The presence of widespread poverty, extensive unemployment and horizontal inequalities rooted in the legacy of apartheid means that there is both a political and moral imperative for liberal politicians in South Africa to acknowledge and embrace the strategic role of the state in the provision of social welfare.