The viability of the South African National Development Plan and Amartya Sen's theory of ethical development
"Development" has emerged as a key word indicating the level of participation in and integration into the global economy of previously "under-developed" or marginalized countries, especially from the so-called "Third World". Even though decolonial theory contests the validity of what is seen as a particular arrogant Western assessment of the norms at work in such classification of nation-states, it is widely accepted that there is a direct equation between growth and equality: The lower the level of inequality in any country, the faster and the more sustainable the growth in the economy is expected to be. South Africa's dilemma is that it portrays the extreme negative aspect of this fundamental socio-economic formula. The country has a high level of inequality and seems to be stuck in low economic growth! In essence, the current high level of inequality in South Africa results in slow and unsustainable growth in the economy. A healthy development path for South Africa would mean that both economic growth and equality should be sustainably sought. Colonial and apartheid periods elicited processes of planning and development which may have been well-managed and controlled but were fundamentally unjust, being based on stark inequalities, and thus strongly and justifiably opposed. The central focus of this study is to ethically assess the rationale and implementation of the South African National Development Plan (NDP), developed on the basis of the country‘s model new Constitution in order to ensure good quality of life and dignity for all its citizens. The goal of this study is to determine to which extent the NDP is viable in this sense, and can be supported on the basis of a responsible ethical development paradigm, such as Amartya Sen's comprehensive theory of "development as freedom". The relevance of this thesis is that it aims at contributing towards a trustworthy assessment framework for testing all aspects of the NDP, especially its ethical viability.To test the viability of the NDP the study zoomed in on detailed assessments of the following frameworks: 1) Critical historical studies of South Africa's international political and economic development, 2) Constitutional and human rights studies into the constitutional framework of the NDP and its socio-ethical perspectives, 3) Studies on development Theory to identify gaps or suspect aspects of the NDP, 4) Studies on globalization and a global ethic to specifically understand the positive and negative sides of globalization as relevant factors in development discourse in South Africa, and 5) A particular study of Sen's comprehensive development framework to use a theory acknowledged for its comprehensiveness and ethical sharpness to thoroughly assess the strengths and weaknesses of the NDP. Some preliminary findings drawn from this study suggest that the (utilitarian or consequentialist) goals and objectives of the NDP are generally seen as positive and pointing in the right direction. However, the deeper ethical analysis of the NDP, linked to the emergence of responsibility theory, a global ethic (a deontological social ethic for the world), a particular African virtue ethic (Ubuntu), and specifically to Amartya Sen's ethical analysis of the kind of agency and freedom needed by the actors in the drama of development – together - expose various shortcomings in the NDP, some of its goals, its implementation, sustainability, and the new ethos it embodies. The concluding remarks of this study thus provide a number of critical points, ethically spoken, on crucial details of the NDP. Such aspects of the NDP are, for instance, its "utility" (according to the theory which holds that actions are right if they lead to optimum happiness for the greatest number of people); its "morality" (good outcomes or results produced by right actions, consequences which generally outweigh all other considerations); its "virtue" (which focuses on individual agency, morality and duties), but also in typical African fashion, the quality of its "Ubuntu" (the being together of people defining each member of the clan‘s humanity and dignity). Sen's accent on the inner freedom, the agency, of individuals and people, organized in civil society - to support each other, to be open, ready and engaged in their own development - seems to provide some of the missing ingredients for the NDP and its path. Such ingredients cannot be guaranteed or "produced" by human rights, constitutions, rule of law, or even a bill of rights. In the face of state capture, corrupt leadership, personal greed, lack of personal integrity or virtue, disregard for divine commands or human rights, this one factor seems to be the only medicine that works: deep-seated personal agency (of the individual and of civil society), generating strong determination, joint action and a belief of a future commonwealth that does honour the original dream of the Freedom Charter. Hopefully the critical questions emerging from the multi-level ethical assessment of the NDP, may stimulate new debates and set out new research agendas for a just and peaceful future for the "Rainbow Nation".