International Development Planning Review

Social justice and post-apartheid development planning: Reflections on moral progress in South Africa

International Development Planning Review (2004), 26, (4), 359–376.

Abstract

This article focuses on South Africa's macro-development strategy through the lens of social justice theory. The two key post-apartheid development planning frameworks, the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) macro-economic development strategy, are reviewed and their outcomes are assessed in terms of social justice theory. It is argued that while RDP was a strategy that had distinctive Rawlsian social justice characteristics, the implementation of the neoliberal GEAR strategy has led to certain outcomes, particularly the deepening of poverty and a rise in income inequality, which cannot be seen as consistent with mainstream social justice theorisation. However, the fact that, under GEAR, RDP objectives in terms of a broadly defined 'social wage' have been maintained, makes it less feasible to reach the simplistic conclusion that South Africa under the GEAR policy framework is not making strides towards being a more socially just society. This view, however, holds implications for the way in which we interpret the social justice concept.

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Visser, Gustav