South Africa as a developmental state seeks to balance economic growth and social development through using state resources and influence to reduce poverty and expand economic opportunities for the poor and the previously disadvantaged. The State seeks to apply its vast resources in a manner that not only creates a market economy, but also enables it to meet its social goals in respect of unemployment, skills development, housing and education. As indicated in the Commission Report of the ANC National Policy Conference of 2007 “A South African developmental state… whilst acting effectively to promote growth, efficiency and productivity, it must be equally effective in addressing the social conditions of the masses of our people and realising economic progress for the poor’.
While there is much debate as to what exactly a developmental state is and how it should be achieved, its consequences are that developmental objectives are included in the delivery objectives of Government activities and programmes. For example South Africa’s public sector’s infrastructure spending programme has formed the centerpiece of government plans to support and facilitate economic growth and development. In addition to contributing directly to economic growth, the public sector infrastructure programme is also supposed to support other social objectives by contributing to job creation, reducing poverty and assisting in developing competitive local industry (K Lockwood, Infrastructure Expenditure Tracker, 2010).