< Back

1. Introduction to the Reconstruction and Development Programme


1.1.1The RDP is an integrated, coherent socio-economic policy framework. It seeks to mobilise all our people and our country`s resources toward the final eradication of apartheid and the building of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist future.

1.1.2Within the framework for policy represented by the RDP, the ANC will develop detailed positions and a legislative programme of government.

1.1.3The RDP has been drawn up by the ANC-led alliance in consultation with other key mass organisations. A wide range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research organisations assisted in the process.

1.1.4This process of consultation and joint policy formulation must continue as the RDP is developed into an effective programme of government. Other key sectors of our society such as the business community must be consulted and encouraged to participate as fully as they may choose.

1.1.5Those organisations within civil society that participated in the development of the RDP will be encouraged by an ANC government to be active in and responsible for the effective implementation of the RDP.

1.1.6This inclusive approach to developing and implementing policy is unique in South Africa`s political history. The special nature of the ANC as a liberation movement and the traditions of the Freedom Charter make it the only political organisation capable of unifying a wide range of social movements, community-based organisations and numerous other sectors and formations. Widespread and broad-based extra-parliamentary support will allow the ANC within a Government of National Unity to implement the programme.


1.2.1Our history has been a bitter one dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies. The result is that poverty and degradation exist side by side with modern cities and a developed mining, industrial and commercial infrastructure. Our income distribution is racially distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world - lavish wealth and abject poverty characterise our society.

1.2.2The economy was built on systematically enforced racial division in every sphere of our society. Rural areas have been divided into underdeveloped bantustans and well-developed, white-owned commercial farming areas. Towns and cities have been divided into townships without basic infrastructure for blacks and well-resourced suburbs for whites.

1.2.3Segregation in education, health, welfare, transport and employment left deep scars of inequality and economic inefficiency. In commerce and industry, very large conglomerates dominated by whites control large parts of the economy. Cheap labour policies and employment segregation concentrated skills in white hands. Our workers are poorly equipped for the rapid changes taking place in the world economy. Small and medium-sized enterprises are underdeveloped, while highly protected industries underinvested in research, development and training.

1.2.4The result is that in every sphere of our society - economic, social, political, moral, cultural, environmental - South Africans are confronted by serious problems. There is not a single sector of South African society, nor a person living in South Africa, untouched by the ravages of apartheid. Whole regions of our country are now suffering as a direct result of the apartheid policies and their collapse.

1.2.5In its dying years, apartheid unleashed a vicious wave of violence. Thousands and thousands of people have been brutally killed, maimed, and forced from their homes. Security forces have all too often failed to act to protect people, and have frequently been accused of being implicated in, and even fomenting, this violence. We are close to creating a culture of violence in which no person can feel any sense of security in their person and property. The spectre of poverty and/or violence haunts millions of our people.

1.2.6Millions of ordinary South Africans struggled against this system over decades, to improve their lives, to restore peace, and to bring about a more just society. In their homes, in their places of work, in townships, in classrooms, in clinics and hospitals, on the land, in cultural expression, the people of our country, black, white, women, men, old and young devoted their lives to the cause of a more humane South Africa. This struggle against apartheid was fought by individuals, by political organisations and by a mass democratic movement.

1.2.7It is this collective heritage of struggle, these common yearnings, which are our greatest strength, and the RDP builds on it. At the same time the challenges facing South Africa are enormous. Only a comprehensive approach to harnessing the resources of our country can reverse the crisis created by apartheid. Only an all-round effort to harness the life experience, skills, energies and aspirations of the people can lay the basis for a new South Africa.

1.2.8The first decisive step in this direction will be the forthcoming one-person, one-vote elections. A victory for democratic forces in these elections will lay the basis for effective reconstruction and development, and the restoration of peace.

1.2.9But an election victory is only a first step. No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.

1.2.10How can we do this successfully? It is no use merely making a long list of promises that pretend to answer every need expressed. Making promises is easy - especially during election campaigns - but carrying them out as a government is very much more difficult. A programme is required that is achievable, sustainable, and meets the objectives of freedom and an improved standard of living and quality of life for all South Africans within a peaceful and stable society.

1.2.11The RDP is designed to be such a programme. To reach the RDP`s objectives we face many obstacles and we are setting ourselves a great challenge. Each and every expectation will not be realised and each and every need will not be met immediately. Hard choices will have to be made. The RDP provides the framework within which those choices can be made. Even more importantly, it will involve both government and the people in further identifying needs and the obstacles to satisfying those needs, and will involve both in jointly implementing realistic strategies to overcome these obstacles. The RDP is an expression of confidence in the wisdom, organisational abilities and determination of our people.


1.3.1Six basic principles, linked together, make up the political and economic philosophy that underlies the whole RDP. This is an innovative and bold philosophy based on a few simple but powerful ideas. They are:

1.3.2An integrated and sustainable programme. The legacy of apartheid cannot be overcome with piecemeal and uncoordinated policies. The RDP brings together strategies to harness all our resources in a coherent and purposeful effort that can be sustained into the future. These strategies will be implemented at national, provincial and local levels by government, parastatals and organisations within civil society working within the framework of the RDP.

This programme is essentially centred on:

1.3.3A people-driven process. Our people, with their aspirations and collective determination, are our most important resource. The RDP is focused on our people`s most immediate needs, and it relies, in turn, on their energies to drive the process of meeting these needs. Regardless of race or sex, or whether they are rural or urban, rich or poor, the people of South Africa must together shape their own future. Development is not about the delivery of goods to a passive citizenry. It is about active involvement and growing empowerment. In taking this approach we are building on the many forums, peace structures and negotiations that our people are involved in throughout the land.

This programme and this people-driven process are closely bound up with:

1.3.4Peace and security for all. Promoting peace and security must involve all people and must build on and expand the National Peace Initiative. Apartheid placed the security forces, police and judicial system at the service of its racist ideology. The security forces have been unable to stem the tide of violence that has engulfed our people. To begin the process of reconstruction and development we must now establish security forces that reflect the national and gender character of our country. Such forces must be non-partisan, professional, and uphold the Constitution and respect human rights. The judicial system must reflect society`s racial and gender composition, and provide fairness and equality for all before the law.

As peace and security are established, we will be able to embark upon:

1.3.5Nation-building. Central to the crisis in our country are the massive divisions and inequalities left behind by apartheid. We must not perpetuate the separation of our society into a `first world` and a `third world` - another disguised way of preserving apartheid. We must not confine growth strategies to the former, while doing patchwork and piecemeal development in the latter, waiting for trickle-down development. Nation-building is the basis on which to build a South Africa that can support the development of our Southern African region. Nation-building is also the basis on which to ensure that our country takes up an effective role within the world community. Only a programme that develops economic, political and social viability can ensure our national sovereignty.

Nation-building requires us to:

1.3.6Link reconstruction and development.The RDP is based on reconstruction and development being parts of an integrated process. This is in contrast to a commonly held view that growth and development, or growth and redistribution are processes that contradict each other. Growth - the measurable increase in the output of the modern industrial economy - is commonly seen as the priority that must precede development. Development is portrayed as a marginal effort of redistribution to areas of urban and rural poverty. In this view, development is a deduction from growth. The RDP breaks decisively with this approach. If growth is defined as an increase in output, then it is of course a basic goal. However, where that growth occurs, how sustainable it is, how it is distributed, the degree to which it contributes to building long-term productive capacity and human resource development, and what impact it has on the environment, are the crucial questions when considering reconstruction and development. The RDP integrates growth, development, reconstruction and redistribution into a unified programme. The key to this link is an infrastructural programme that will provide access to modern and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications, transport, health, education and training for all our people. This programme will both meet basic needs and open up previously suppressed economic and human potential in urban and rural areas. In turn this will lead to an increased output in all sectors of the economy, and by modernising our infrastructure and human resource development, we will also enhance export capacity. Success in linking reconstruction and development is essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.

Finally, these first five principles all depend on a thoroughgoing

1.3.7Democratisation of South Africa. Minority control and privilege in every aspect of our society are the main obstruction to developing an integrated programme that unleashes all the resources of our country. Thoroughgoing democratisation of our society is, in other words, absolutely integral to the whole RDP. The RDP requires fundamental changes in the way that policy is made and programmes are implemented. Above all, the people affected must participate in decision-making. Democratisation must begin to transform both the state and civil society. Democracy is not confined to periodic elections. It is, rather, an active process enabling everyone to contribute to reconstruction and development.

1.3.8An integrated programme, based on the people, that provides peace and security for all and builds the nation, links reconstruction and development and deepens democracy - these are the six basic principles of the RDP.


1.4.1There are many proposals, strategies and policy programmes contained in the RDP. These can be grouped into five major policy programmes that are linked one to the other. The five key programmes are:

  • meeting basic needs;
  • developing our human resources;
  • building the economy;
  • democratising the state and society, and
  • implementing the RDP.

1.4.2Meeting Basic Needs. The first priority is to begin to meet the basic needs of people - jobs, land, housing, water, electricity, telecommunications, transport, a clean and healthy environment, nutrition, health care and social welfare. In this way we can begin to reconstruct family and community life in our society. In this chapter, achievable programmes are set out for the next five years. These include programmes to redistribute a substantial amount of land to landless people, build over one million houses, provide clean water and sanitation to all, electrify 2,5 million new homes and provide access for all to affordable health care and telecommunications. The success of these programmes is essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.

1.4.3Our people should be involved in these programmes by being made part of the decision-making on where infrastructure is located, by being employed in its construction and by being empowered to manage and administer these large-scale programmes. These major infrastructural programmes should stimulate the economy through increased demand for materials such as bricks and steel, appliances such as television sets and washing machines, and many other products. In addition, the industrial sector must develop new, more efficient and cheaper products to meet our basic infrastructural needs.

1.4.4Developing Our Human Resources. The RDP is a people-centred programme - our people must be involved in the decision-making process, in implementation, in new job opportunities requiring new skills, and in managing and governing our society. This will empower our people but an education and training programme is crucial. This chapter of the RDP deals with education from primary to tertiary level, from child care to advanced scientific and technological training. It focuses on young children, students and adults. It deals with training in formal institutions and at the workplace.

1.4.5The underlying approach of these programmes is that education and training should be available to all from cradle to grave. The RDP takes a broad view of education and training, seeing it not only as something that happens in schools or colleges, but in all areas of our society - homes, workplaces, public works programmes, youth programmes and in rural areas.

1.4.6A key focus throughout the RDP is on ensuring a full and equal role for women in every aspect of our economy and society. With this emphasis and with the emphasis on affirmative action throughout the RDP, we must unlock boundless energies and creativity suppressed by racism and discrimination.

1.4.7In training, particular attention is paid to the challenges posed by the restructuring of our industries as we fully re-enter the world economy. These challenges can only be met through the extensive development of our human resources.

1.4.8An arts and culture programme is set out as a crucial component of developing our human resources. This will assist us in unlocking the creativity of our people, allowing for cultural diversity within the project of developing a unifying national culture, rediscovering our historical heritage and assuring that adequate resources are allocated.

1.4.9Because of apartheid, sport and recreation have been denied to the majority of our people. Yet there can be no real socio-economic development without there being adequate facilities for sport and recreation in all communities. The RDP wants to ensure that all people have access to such facilities. Only in this way can all our peoples have a chance to represent their villages, towns, cities, provinces or country in the arena of sport and to enjoy a rich diversity of recreational activities.

1.4.10The problems facing the youth are well known. If we are to develop our human resource potential, then special attention must be paid to the youth. Our human resource policy should be aimed at reversing youth marginalisation, empowering youth, and allowing them to reach their full potential. Programmes for training, education and job creation will enable our youth to play a full role in the reconstruction and development of our society.

1.4.11This programme for the development of our human resources underpins the capacity to democratise our society, thus allowing people to participate on the basis of knowledge, skill and creativity.

1.4.12Building the Economy. The economy has strengths and weaknesses. Mining, manufacturing, agriculture, commerce, financial services and infrastructure are well developed. At present we have a large surplus of electricity. These are strengths we can build on. But so far they have not benefitted all our people. A process of reconstruction is proposed to ensure that these strengths now benefit all our people.

1.4.13But we must also address serious weaknesses in our economy. There are still very clear racial and gender inequalities in ownership, employment and skills. Past industrial policies assisted in creating employment and were an important factor in developing industry but they were also accompanied by repressive labour practices, neglect of training, isolation from the world economy and excessive concentration of economic power. The result is a low level of investment in research and development, low and inappropriate skill levels, high costs, low productivity and declining employment.

1.4.14Central to building the economy is the question of worker rights. Past policies of labour exploitation and repression must be redressed and the imbalances of power between employers and workers corrected. The basic rights to organise and to strike must be entrenched. And negotiations and participative structures at national, industry and workplace level must be created to ensure that labour plays an effective role in the reconstruction and development of our country.

1.4.15In the world economy, the demand for raw materials including minerals has not grown rapidly and there is intense competition in the production of manufactured goods. The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was recently updated to achieve substantial reductions in tariff levels. Our economy must adjust to these pressures if we are to sustain economic growth and continue to develop a large domestic manufacturing sector that makes greater use of our own raw materials and minerals.

1.4.16A central proposal in this chapter is that we cannot build the South African economy in isolation from its Southern African neighbours. Such a path would benefit nobody in the long run. If South Africa attempts to dominate its neighbours it will restrict their growth, reducing their potential as markets, worsening their unemployment, and causing increased migration to South Africa. If we seek mutual cooperation, we can develop a large stable market offering stable employment and common labour standards in all areas.

1.4.17The pressures of the world economy and the operations of international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and GATT, affect our neighbours and South Africa in different ways. In the case of our neighbours, they were pressured into implementing programmes with adverse effects on employment and standards of living. It is essential that we combine to develop effective strategies for all Southern African countries.

1.4.18In building the economy, programmes dealing with the following areas are dealt with: linking reconstruction and development; industry, trade and commerce; resource-based industries; upgrading infrastructure; labour and worker rights, and Southern Africa.

1.4.19Democratising the State and Society. Democratisation is integral to the RDP. Without thoroughgoing democratisation the resources and potential of our country and people will not be available for a coherent programme of reconstruction and development.

1.4.20In linking democracy, development and a people-centred approach, we are paving the way for a new democratic order. This chapter sets out the role of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, of national, provincial and local government, the administration of justice, the public sector, parastatals, the police and security forces, social movements and NGOs, and a democratic information system in facilitating socio-economic development.

1.4.21Implementing the RDP. The RDP raises many challenges in its implementation because it involves processes and forms of participation by organisations outside government that are very different to the old apartheid order. To implement and coordinate the RDP will require the establishment of effective RDP structures in government at a national, provincial and local level.

1.4.22This chapter deals with the proposals for coordinating and planning the implementation of the RDP. This requires substantial restructuring of present planning processes and a rationalisation of the complex, racist and fragmented structures that exist. The RDP can only be people-centred if the planning and coordinating processes allow the active involvement of democratic structures.

1.4.23Understandably, the first questions asked are: What will the RDP cost? Who will pay for it? These are important questions and in developing a programme to finance the RDP, certain key points are taken into account: of the expenditure on the RDP is not in fact new - rather it is the better organisation and rationalisation of existing systems that will unlock resources; must improve the capacity of the financial sector to mobilise more resources and to direct these to activities set out in the RDP, from housing to small and medium-sized enterprises; must ensure that electrification and telecommunications will be self-financing; funds must be reallocated and rationalisation must be effected in many areas; and reformed tax systems will collect more tax without having to raise tax levels (as the RDP succeeds, more taxpayers will be able to pay and revenue will rise), and funds will be raised in a number of areas.


1.5.1All over South Africa, including in People`s Forums, the same questions are posed over and over:

  • how will the ANC create jobs?
  • when will you build houses?
  • how can we get water and electricity?
  • what about education?
  • when will we have a fair and effective police force?
  • will you give us health care?
  • what about pensions?

1.5.2The RDP attempts to provide achievable, realistic and clear programmes to answer these questions. But it goes further than this and encourages people and their organisations to participate in the process. In the conclusion we outline proposed concrete steps to make such participation possible.