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Presidencies and Policy in Post-apartheid South Africa

Vusi Gumede

Abstract


From a policy perspective, the question naturally arises as to whether there have been major changes in policy making and associated issues in South Africa since 1994. Arguably, the first five years or so focused on institutional reforms and legislative interventions. In the late 1990s the South African government established specific processes and institutions for policy development and coordination.  In 2005-6, specific processes and institutions for long-term planning and monitoring and evaluation were formally established. The paper examines the evolution of policy making and coordination in South Africa since the late 1990s, it also reflects on monitoring and evaluation as well as long-term planning. The erstwhile Policy Coordination and Advisory Services (PCAS), which had been the main engine of policy (coordination and other aspects) in post-apartheid South Africa that was established towards the end of 1997 in the Office of Deputy President Thabo Mbeki (at the time) was disbanded in 2010. The PCAS, popularly known as the Policy Unit, coordinated all policies and reforms, and led in planning as well as monitoring and evaluation, among other responsibilities. From 2010, functions were institutionalised or strengthened (e.g. government departments have been established to deal with planning as well as monitoring and evaluation). There have not been major shifts and/or changes in policy coordination, planning as well as monitoring and evaluation since the late 1990s. However, there appears to be a shift in emphasis to focusing more on implementation. This might have been one of the biggest mistakes of the Jacob Zuma administration because capacity for policy thinking is critical. It would seem that the Thabo Mbeki administration focused specifically on policy. The Nelson Mandela administration, which was a Government of National Unity, was largely focused on various policy, legislative and institutional reforms with very limited capacity for policy making, coordination and monitoring and evaluation as well as long-term planning.

 


Keywords


coordination; evaluation; monitoring; planning; policy making; presidency; public policy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25159/0256-8845/3096

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