'Toilets in the Veld': Similarities in the Housing Policy of the New South Africa and the former Apartheid State

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Virginia Tech

During the campaign of South Africa's first multi-racial elections of 1994, Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) pledged to provide 1,000,000 new homes within the first presidential term of five years. This goal became more than just campaign rhetoric when it was written into the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), a broad guideline for the new government's goals. However the Housing White Paper, the first housing policy of the new government, did not include a plan for mass housing construction. By 1998, Mandela had publicly abandoned the goal of 1,000,000 new homes in his term. Rather, private sector financing and vigorous community involvement through partnerships and collaboration between stakeholders were to be the cornerstones of delivery. The policy formulation process, which began two years prior to the elections, yielded an incremental approach of in situ upgrading through a capital subsidy, derived in large part from that of the previous administration.

This paper examines the policy formulation process, and why Mandela's ambitious housing agenda was not followed up with a policy that could realize the goal of 1 million homes in five years. Three explanations are offered, incrementalism in the policy formulation process, and the need for both domestic and international legitimization in light of poor economic conditions.

Apartheid, South Africa, Globalization, Incrementalism, Housing