Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) is a South African socio-economic policy framework implemented by the African National Congress (ANC) government of Nelson Mandela in 1994 after months of discussions, consultations and negotiations between the ANC, its Alliance partners the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, and "mass organisations in the wider civil society".[1]

The ANC's chief aim in developing and implementing the Reconstruction and Development Programme, was to address the immense socioeconomic problems brought about by apartheid. Specifically, it set its sights on alleviating poverty and addressing the massive shortfalls in social services across the country—something that the document acknowledged would rely upon a stronger macroeconomic environment.[1] Achieving poverty alleviation and a stronger economy were thus seen as deeply interrelated and mutually supporting objectives—development without growth would be financially unsustainable, while growth without development would fail to bring about the necessary structural transformation within South Africa's deeply inequitable and largely impoverished population. Hence the RDP attempted to combine measures to boost the economy such as contained fiscal spending, sustained or lowered taxes, reduction of government debt and trade liberalisation with socially minded social service provisions and infrastructural projects. In this way, the policy took on both socialist and neo-liberal elements—but could not be easily categorised wholly in either camp.

Social achievements of the RDP

Proponents of the RDP argue that the programme oversaw many major advances in dealing with South Africa's most severe social problems:

RDP Houses in Soweto
RDP Houses in Soweto

Critics have questioned the scope of change represented by many of the statistics, and have argued that realities on the ground signify a far more modest improvement than the government claims. They have attacked, in particular, the standards of housing and water delivery, healthcare improvements and the successfulness of land reform policy and agricultural reforms:

See also


  1. ^ a b The Reconstruction and Development Programme Preface, Nelson Mandela, 1994
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Tom Lodge, "The RDP: Delivery and Performance" in "Politics in South Africa: From Mandela to Mbeki", David Philip:Cape Town & Oxford, 2003
  3. ^ Statistics South Africa, "South Africa in Transition", p.75