chapter  5
Incipient Local Economic Development in the Eastern Cape: 1909-1955
WithEtienne Louis Nel
Pages 34

As the international literature review reveals, it is increasingly recognised that LED strategies are not only a late-twentieth century phenomenon. Rather it appears to be a development initiative which was temporarily suppressed in the post-World War II era of state management. Evidence from Canada, the United States (Erie, 1992) and the United Kingdom suggests that ‘there was a rich pre-1940 tradition of local economic initiatives’ (Ward, 1990,114). Despite the fact that South Africa’s society and economy have been one of the most rigidly controlled in recent history, with the government determining and controlling almost all forms of initiative and development, there is increasing evidence that LED was a very real feature in urban areas prior to the ‘apartheid era’ (Robinson, 1990; Nel and Rogerson, 1995). Evidence from Johannesburg (Rogerson, 1995a) has demonstrated that strategies such as ‘place-marketing’, ‘urban entrepreneurialism and public works programmes are not new concepts in South Africa. The goal of this chapter is to investigate whether LED was a reality in the Eastern Cape prior to the post-World War II era of state driven regional development. This chapter deals with developments in an era of municipal interventionism in the Eastern Cape in the first half of the twentieth century which preceded the enhanced levels of state control which characterised the post-World War II period, as is detailed in the next chapter. Although the focus is on the period prior to World War II, in certain cases, LED programmes only terminated after the end of the war. Where this occurred the rigid cut-off of the War was not applied and the process was followed through to its suspension in those centres.