|dc.description.abstract||Development must be contextually understood. Not all persons will react similarly
to circumstances in their environment. Their behaviour in certain situations will be
determined by a wide variety of factors, including their upbringing, their cultural
framework within which they reason and function, for example. Similarly
government will react within the contextual framework composed of its
predominant ideological perspective, its understanding of history, its perception
of the dominant viewpoint regarding the matter in society, and so forth.
South Africa's economic limitations have placed serious constrains on the
country's ability to formulate and implement sustainable development policies.
One of the extremely negative side-effects of this reality was the continuous cash
flow problems experienced by various Provincial and National authorities in the
country, where the National Government was eventually required to bail them out
in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
The implications of this were that these authorities surrendered their autonomy in
terms of the Constitution to the central government.
South Africa is a "developing" country, which made it a bit more 'unequal
amongst equals' in the global economic structure. In this regard it is essential for
the country to take cognisance of the reality of the global village in which it find
itself; characterised by the domination of a single remaining superpower, a
declining ability of the physical environment to sustain life and a rapidly changing
Limited economic resources to facilitate development caused various socioeconomic
problems in the country. Amongst these are the enormous gap
between the rich and the poor in the country. This reality is threatening to
explode and plunge the country in anarchy. A declining infrastructure is further
eroding South Africa's ability to construct meaningful economic growth.
A decrease in the role and function of religion and churches in the country has
gradually eroded the moral fiber of society. The result is a South African reality
characterized by a staggering crime rate and the transformation of the normative
foundation to guide management activity in the South African public service.
Other characteristics of the South African environment are persistent racial
divisions, inequality and staggering unemployment.
The question that might be asked is how responsive the political set-up in South
Africa is to the fostering of effective management of development. The answer to
this issue can be formulated by evaluating the South African government's
response to the environmental challenges in the country.
A very positive aspect in the political set-up of the South African society, that
undoubtedly foster improvement in the quality of life of ordinary South Africans, is
the massive increase in the levels of public participation in the decision - and
policy-making processes of the country. Contemporary involvement of the
community by means of continuous and extensive road shows and open
meetings with the community is a massive improvement on the traditional
involvement in the form of party-political meeting during election campaigns and
a formal speech at the opening (or launch) of one or the other project.
Aggressive union activity, and the concept of rolling mass action have also
fostered a culture of participation. However, on the negative side it is worth
mentioning that a growing feeling of apathy can be detected, especially amongst
the youth, and that the level of active participation in the political process is
relatively low, and ever declining. The euphoria of the freedom struggle, and
eventual victory over the oppressor have come and gone, in spite of active
attempts on the side of the government to keep these feelings and emotions alive
(mostly for party-political gain). These feelings have been replaced with despair
in the face of ongoing unemployment and poverty.
The structural management capacity of the public sector to realise ambitious
development progress has improved - although a move away from bureaucratic
management structures will surely benefit this ability. The introduction of a
performance management framework, multi-year planning and improved
accountability measures have strengthened the ability of the South African public
sector to facilitate effective development management.
However, aspects that will certainly impact negatively on the ability of the public
sector to effectively management development initiatives are also numerous:
o A serious lack of financial management competency and expertise.
o The 'affirmative-action-at-all-cost' policy, where desperately needed expertise
are often pro-actively chased away to make way for politically acceptable
appointments. The same goes for indiscretional political appointments at high
and senior organizational positions.
These days just about all personnel-related matters in the public sector are
based on 'representivity' - even personnel performance appraisals. If these
kind of appraisals do not reflect the racial composition of a the staff
component of a department, the process is stopped for further investigation.
o Persistent racism - white public officials who, often unconsciously, still
believe that black workers are inferior and their contribution less impressive.
In some instances white public officials also hampers effective service
delivery because they will still advantage whites at service delivery points.
o However, and this point the government denies flat-out: Black-an-white
discrimination is also thriving. Newly appointed black managers often have
very deep anti-white feelings, and are barely able to hide these preferences.
o Bureaucratic, organic organizational structures. Several of South Africa's
service delivery agencies are still involved in a process of re-structuring seven
years after the 1994 general election. More often than not this 'restructuring'
refers to a state of structural mess - with meaningful service delivery a
Service delivery in South Africa has been enhanced by renewed emphasis on
quality management and a drive towards increased transparency and
accountability. The formal structural framework for service delivery was improved
by introducing various Service Delivery Charters and the White Paper on
Transformation of Public Service Delivery. However, the official service delivery
agencies are neglecting to properly implement these initiatives.
So, has South Africa managed to achieve sustainable development? There are
two perceptions regarding the answer to this question. The one holds the view
that, in spite of the sincere and honest efforts of government to take the plight of
ordinary South Africans seriously during the policy-making process, is it still hard
to conclude that the ideal of sustainable development has been realised in South
Africa. A lot of houses have been built; the focus on clinical services has ensure
that primary health care services are now more readily available to ordinary
South Africans - yes; for example But, perhaps the most damaging reflection on
the post-1994 government's performance in respect of development, come from
the anti-apartheid veteran of so many years, Helen Suzman when she stated that
while I, like others, am greatly relieved that South Africa is rid of all the heinous
laws of the apartheid regime and immensely pleased at no longer being a citizen
of a pariah country, my high hopes of a good performance by our new
government have not been realised.
"Government has failed to deliver on its promise of 'a better life for all.' True, I, as
a privileged white, continue to live at the same high standard, but equally true,
the standard of living of the majority of blacks have deteriorated."
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The ultimate test to determine whether
or not development has realized, for the purposes of this study, was the question
of whether or not there was an improvement in the quality of life of ordinary
The other viewpoint is best expressed by The Economist of 24 February 2001 at
the end of a series of articles which aim was to analyse the state of affairs in
South Africa seven years after the 1994 general elections. The author concluded
that, whatever its shortcomings today, (South Africa) is a far happier place
than it used to be, and a far happier place than it might have been. In time, it
may yet fulfil the promise of the Mandela years."||en_ZA