The interventionist role of the state in socio-economic and political development in democratic South Africa (1994-2014)

Daniel Francois Meyer, Herman Van Der Elst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Universally it is agreed that the state is a necessary and worthwhile institution in any country. In order to ensure effective service delivery to the population of a country, some form of government intervention is always required. This intervention must however be aligned with the unique characteristics of a country and its population. This article focuses holistically on the nature of state intervention as well as the different forms thereof. The analysis is however narrowed down to possible forms of interventions within democratic states. Against this background, South Africa is selected as a case study, due to the relative youthfulness of its democracy and the reality that the country remains subjected to political and economic transformation. The various applicable forms of state intervention in a democracy are analysed and applied to the current South African sociopolitical and economic landscape. A specific emphasis is placed on the elements of the social-welfare state and the development state in the South African context. It is argued that South Africa aspires to be a development state. In the analysis it was however found that the country is more of a social-welfare state due to its political history of "apartheid" which left a large portion of the population, amongst others, exposed to poverty and unemployment. More than 60% of the national budget is spent on social-welfare services and South Africa has the most comprehensive social-welfare support system in Africa. South Africa faces a dilemma of attempting to be a development state in a fully democratic dispensation, whilst having huge socialwelfare backlogs. As an outcome it is recommended that South Africa needs to proceed with a mixed intervention approach. This approach includes the elements of both the development and welfare state for socio-economic and political success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalMediterranean Journal of Social Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Democracy
  • Development state
  • South Africa
  • State intervention
  • Welfare state

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)


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