Crouching tigers, leaping lions? Developmental leadership lesson for South Africa from China and Malaysia

Jo-Ansie van Wyk


Developmental leadership contributes to socio-economic development in developing states. China has, for example, set itself an ambitious power development, production and distribution agenda, whereas Malaysia’s Big Fast Results Methodology is contributing to its economic development. Both these states offer some lessons for South Africa as Southern Africa’s strongest economy. In fact, South African President Jacob Zuma’s Operation Phakisa and its focus on, inter alia, the oceans or blue economy is directly taken from Malaysia’s Big Fast Results Methodology. Moreover, South Africa has consolidated its relations, especially in the power sector with China, which is expanding its nuclear power sector at a very fast pace. Against the aforesaid, the article intends to analyse the relatively new concept, developmental leadership, in the context of declared developmental states; and using two case studies (electricity and oceans governance) for illustrative purposes to determine the applicability, impact and lessons from the Chinese and Malaysian models for South Africa as a developmental state.

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