SA reflects on public service since democracy

NOVEMBER 13, 2014

Public Service and Administration Minister, Collins Chabane, says as the country celebrates the 20th year since the dawn of democracy, there is a need to reflect on what the country has achieved and what challenges still lie ahead with regards to the public service.

Minister Chabane, who was speaking at the Public Service Commission conference on Wednesday on “Reflections on the South African Public Service Transformation journey since 1994 and road ahead”, said the democratic government inherited a public service that lacked transparency and accountability, providing space for abuse of power and corruption.

He said the country needed to appreciate why South Africa, 20 years into democracy, was often quoted internationally as a success story of peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.

“South Africa’s first democratic government inherited a fragmented, unaccountable and racially divided governance system in 1994, consisting of homeland administrations, as well as, separate national and provincial administrations, for designated racial groupings,” he said.

He explained that the homeland administrations were poorly organised and resourced, largely without local government functionality, and the services they provided were determined by the apartheid state.

“Those government service points that were well capacitated were mostly in the urban areas and served the needs of a minority. Post-apartheid South Africa needed both a reformed governance and structural system that would allow all South Africans to claim political and social ownership of the country,” he said.

Minister Chabane said the country’s governance landscape had changed significantly since then and would be transformed in the years to come with the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).

The Minister said the NDP clearly identified that an unevenness in capacity leads to uneven performance at local, provincial and national government.

“The National Development Plan in particular highlights the importance of building a state that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role which requires collaboration between all sections of society and effective leadership by government,” he said.

The objectives of the conference, being held in Centurion, are to develop to critically review public service institutions and practices with a view to advising key decision-makers about the direction of change of the public service for South Africa to become a capable and developmental state.

The conference is being attended by high-level officials from government. –


Photo Caption: Public Service and Administration Minister, Collins Chabane. Photo courtesy of