Regional Development in South Africa: From Apartheid Planning to the Reform Era

  • Etienne Nel Rhodes University
Keywords: Regional Development Strategies, Apartheid Ideology, Apartheid Planning, Ethnically-Distinct Homelands


Regional development strategies have featured prominently in the planning of South Africa's space economy since the 1940s. Although such strategies have utilized internationally-accepted methods of economic assistance and support, they are unique because of the overlay of apartheid planning and related labor exploitation. This paper outlines evolving policies, practices and results of regional development in South Africa and places particular emphasis on the distinctive role accorded to it by apartheid ideology and, more specifically, the establishment of ethnically-distinct Homelands. Repeated failures with regional and apartheid policies caused the government to refine its strategies and attempt to co-opt private sector support in the 1980s. The renunciation of apartheid and the unsustainable nature of associated regional development strategies prompted a radical policy change in 1991. The implications and effects of this rationalization are discussed as are the potential strategies which the new African National Congress government might adopt.


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