South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference​

Discussion Documents

Transforming the state and governance

30 August 2002

  1. The institutions of governance inherited by the ANC in 1994, were based on the values of colonialism, racism and sexism. It was assumed that only white males were able to exercise political, economic and social power, white women could have some social power, and black men and women had no power or skills and were only fit to serve.

  2. The structures and systems were designed in a way that these relations between races and between men and women were perpetuated and since white men made all the major decisions, the situation was maintained.

  3. Broadly – considering progress in terms of transformation of government and our governance relations – we can safely argue that we have succeeded in formulating adequate policy frameworks covering a wide range of issues that we needed to address in order to move beyond our apartheid legacy. We have successfully steered a policy and legislative reform programme since 1994 that is impressive by any standards – both in terms of content and volume. We have managed to change the structural landscape of a large institution like the public service over a very short period of time. In certain respects remarkable progress has been achieved at government level with the implementation of the policies that we have adopted. It is particularly in the domains of democratisation and building of representative structures that we have achieved significant success since 1994.

  4. However, in the spirit of honest reflection, we need to acknowledge some problems. These problems, more often than not, are rooted in the vexed issue of limited capacity, both within government and within the ANC.

  5. But our biggest governance related challenge for the 51st Conference is to get to the bottom of the problem regarding the shortcomings of the political management of our governance institutions. We need to identify and understand the systemic problems that are preventing performance as we anticipated, above all finding workable, implementable mechanisms that will eventually lead to a better life for the urban and rural poor.

  6. The construction of a democratic society has been at the centre of the governance and transformation process, which is aimed at overcoming the political, social and economic problems of the past. In pursuing this objective a variety of policies have been developed to re-orient and re-unite South African society, mindful of the overall goal of building a democratic society, not only in a political sense, but also focusing on the socio-economic dimensions.

  7. The Balance of Forces document reviews the tasks for consideration within the ambit of transforming the state in the current phase of struggle. Critical issues in the latter document are:
    • Whether the new doctrines that should guide each state organ are in place and do they pursue public resources to better the lives of the majority especially the poor;
    • Have be we been successful in determining the size of the state in line with its tasks.
    • Have state resources grown to meet its challenges and if so at what rate and in which areas is prioritisation taking place;
    • The issue of the patriarchal nature of the state has not been adequately addressed in a manner that impacts on all organs of state, particularly in government departments;
    • Have we ensured a balance between the macro-economic requirements and those of the poorest of the poor, within a sustainable environment;
    • To what end have we been able to manage the motive forces around a concrete programme on governance;
  8. These areas require discussion so that we have a clear and comprehensive programme of state transformation and effective governance.

    Transformation of the public service
  9. ANC policy in the area of Public Service and Administration is not neatly contained in a single document, and needs to be constructed from a variety of source documents, the most important being Ready to Govern (1992), the RDP document of 1994, the Constitution of 1996, the most recent Strategy and Tactics adopted by the 50th National Conference of the ANC, as well as resolutions on Public Service and Administration adopted by successive national conferences.

  10. Transformation of the public service/ sector is important – not only for functional reasons, but also for achieving the overall aims of the National Democratic Revolution. Many of the policy choices and issues in the public service and administration terrain have been recognised as intensely political. Such choices relate directly to thinking on the role of the state, what kind of state, what kind of coordination, accountability, delivery and governance arrangements, and so forth. Choices regarding public service transformation must therefore be compatible with our social goals and values and relevant to our circumstances.

  11. After a reading of all the relevant ANC decisions and guiding documents we have to conclude that the most important dimensions to bear in mind when assessing progress with governance and public service transformation will require in-depth discussions in the following areas:

  12. Leadership: This includes the degree to which the ruling party provides clear policy leadership; the degree of participation and inclusiveness of all policy processes, from decision-making through implementation and evaluation, both in the ANC and in government; and the extent to which the senior cadres, both in politically elected and administratively appointed capacities, are politically accountable.

  13. Structures: The suitability and adequacy of structures and systems appropriate and adequate to achieve the priority goals of the developmental state; the integration of spheres of government to break the previous hierarchy of national to local top-down delivery streams through clarifying roles and relationships and enabling local development plans to feed into provincial and national planning; the existence of a single South African public service; and the quality and efficacy of cooperative governance in terms of achievement of integrated and participatory development;

  14. Capability: A state capable of effective policy making, implementation and review; coordination and planning; intervention on behalf of the poor and marginalised; redistribution of power and resources so as to impact sustainably on the elimination of poverty; effective management and development, specifically re financial and human resources; and building NGO capacity for the development agenda.

  15. Culture: An employment profile that is representative of the population; maintaining a management culture that is attentive to, and appreciative of the people employed; internal democracy (representative, participatory and direct), that will embrace transformed management practices and a progressive labour relations dispensation; a public service that is ethical accountable, impartial and equitable; a committed and loyal public service and administration which shows allegiance to the new order; an efficient, effective public service that avoids wasteful, misdirected and mismanaged development initiatives; and an administration responsive to the needs of the people.

    Challenges and issues for discussion
  16. Policy Leadership provided by the ruling party: The effectiveness of the political leadership and direction that is being provided between our ANC structures and the institutions of governance is still not functioning at its best.

  17. In the first instance we need to acknowledge that our own internal policy processes did not improve as was envisaged during the 50th Conference. How can we further improve the internal ANC policy process, specifically implementation and monitoring of improvements to the ANC policy process itself, so that we are in a better position to track progress between conferences and report on achievements and impact at the next policy conference?

  18. It could be argued those representatives of the ruling party in the national and provincial legislatures, as well as in local councils, are not optimally using their considerable legislative power in terms of either debating policies and legislation, or exercising their oversight role vis-à-vis the Executive. The situation is aggravated by the fast turnover of both elected and appointed officials.

  19. Our policy leadership responsibility is further compromised by the general absence of reliable and appropriate information that will evaluate policy performance and the impact of our policy decisions. Where there is information available it is compiled and communicated by those responsible for implementation, which raises the question as to the reliability and validity of the evidence that is being presented to the Executive, Parliament and the ruling party.

  20. To ensure that policy processes, from decision-making through implementation and evaluation, both within the ANC and in government, are participatory and inclusive.

  21. As an organisation the ANC has not succeeded in enabling its members and branches, and society broadly, to use the opportunities that have been created for more direct democracy in the policy process. Parliament is not functioning as the Congress of the People as anticipated. Special groups of policy beneficiaries, e.g. rural women, are not enabled to hold government accountable when policy targeting is not benefiting them sufficiently, e.g. land redistribution.

  22. Making Integrated and Cooperative Governance a reality: Effective delivery of services and achievement of government strategic objectives requires integrated planning and integrated budgeting processes. Whilst steps have been taken to enhance integration between government departments through an established cluster system, vertical integration remains a major challenge. Of particular importance is planning and budget integration with local government as well as alignment of various plans between different spheres of government

  23. Whilst different structures have been created to enhance integrated governance and integrated planning, many of these remain ad-hoc or have not been integrated into the formal operations of government at both national, provincial and local government level, thus resulting in decisions which are not linked to integrated governance structures. Although integrated governance structures have been evolving and growing without legislative compulsion, the absence of a framework has resulted in fragmentation and a lack of focus and coherence in the integration system of government.

  24. Complexity of Government: The structure of the South African public institutions is incredibly complex. This complexity covers the decision-making, regulatory, service delivery and oversight roles.

  25. Government has a range of institutions that render services to citizens. The manner in which the institutions are organised and the manner in which the institutions interact with each other tend to be overly complex.

  26. The structural arrangements of government do not necessarily accord to service delivery imperatives and the needs of communities. The organisational structure of government is driven by regulatory requirements, rather than geographical and logical considerations for locating and rendering services.

  27. As a result of the complex structure of institutions and the different regulatory and policy frameworks that have been established, it has become difficult to transfer capacity between different functional and service areas that government prioritises.

  28. Operations of Chapter 9 institution: The establishment and development of the Chapter 9 institutions of our Constitution (i.e. South Africa Human Rights Commission, Public Protector, etc.) is central to our efforts to build and strengthen our democracy. To this end, we need to ensure that the institutions function as effective and autonomous safeguards to our Constitution. The benefits derived from these institutions need to be balanced with the costs entailed in the administration of the affairs of the institution.

  29. Given the escalating costs of administration of Chapter 9 institutions, it is essential that we look at ways of managing these costs through a careful assessment of their administration.

  30. Achieving an employment profile that is representative of the population – specifically in terms of gender equity: We have not met the targeted Public Service employment ratios in terms of gender at managerial level and disability overall. We are also likely to fail in other diversity factors such as age, urban-rural divide, language and ethnic group dominance in certain institutions or parts of institutions. The question is: “How should policy be strengthened and further developed in order to achieve success?”

  31. In our efforts to strive for achieving representivity, we need to remain mindful of the balancing act that we are involved in between the demands for creating a representative public service, while putting it on a “professional” footing (merit/ competence/ skill, etc) and within the context of society-wide employment equity goals and delivery imperatives. What more can be done to optimally navigate between these forces?

  32. Ensure that the Organisational Culture within the Public Service changes in such a manner that it reflects the values of Batho Pele: Much of the effort in terms of public service transformation has been focussed on issues of systems and structures. It is becoming clear that without attending to the softer, and more important issues of organisational culture and values, a ceiling will be reached in terms of what can be achieved. We are achieving a level of compliance with legislation and procedure.

  33. The key challenge is changing ethos and behaviour of the public service organisation – not only systems and structures. This change should be reflected both in the internal and external operations of the public service.

  34. The Batho Pele principles of responsiveness, access, transparency, accountability, etc. require cultural change that has to happen in order to claim true transformation of the culture of the Public Service. These principles apply within the public sector, as well as in its external operations with the people. After five years of implementation, the vagueness with which progress is being reported to the people in terms of this significant policy can be interpreted as failure to successfully implement and inculcate it in the public sector work place.

  35. Mobilising civil society and private sector capacity for the development agenda: Civil society organisations play a crucial role in articulating community concerns and feeding this into the decision-making process, as well as in delivering social and economic services. They also have an important contribution to make in monitoring and evaluating the outputs of government. Partnerships and ongoing engagements with such organisations serve to channel societal energies in a much more coherent manner.

  36. An integrated response to Letsema, Vuk’uzenzela/ volunteerism/ calls for patriotism and activism: What can be done to ensure greater willingness and readiness in the public service to take advantage of such initiatives to channel assets and resources for development? What needs to change in the public service mentality to acknowledge/ recognise social capital as an equally important asset as financial resources, and to take the effective use of these resources equally seriously? Do public service managers have the skills, values and attitudes necessary to build the collaborative relationships required to sustain volunteerism? If not, what are we doing about correcting this situation?

    Local government and transformation
  37. As key area of delivery, local government is an instrument for realising sustainable development in the country, providing the means for communities to determine their own development priorities and through participation in local electoral, planning and decision-making processes to shape municipal decisions, and to keep municipalities responsive to their needs by enforcing accountability through ward committees and local elections.

  38. ANC policy on sustainable development at the local level broadly speaks to several core objectives:
    • Community voice in local politics and municipal decision as a method of transferring ownership in development from government to government in community;
    • Local government structures that make decisions transparently, consultatively and are held to account for their decisions to the communities that elect them;
    • Delivering minimum basic services and providing social safety nets to the poor and aged;
    • Advancing the interests of youth, women and the disabled in political and economic life as primary beneficiaries of development programmes;
    • Accelerating the transformation of local economies through land reform, small business development, skills development and targeting development programs to the rural and urban poor to mainstream economic participation;
    • Defining the terms for private sector to participate in local economic development; and
    • Mobilising skills, partnership-coalitions and capital nationally and internationally for local economic development.
  39. The system of local government is an instrument to achieve these objectives, and the fundamentals of this system are in place:
    • There are fewer municipalities and their boundaries integrate previously divided communities within a single municipal area;
    • New municipal councils with democratically elected leadership are established throughout the country;
    • Municipal systems for community participation in local decision-making, such as ward committees, have come into operation;
    • People-centred planning and budgeting processes are taking root;
    • Fiscal instruments for funding local government, in particular an equitable share for basic service provision and grant funding for infrastructure, are in place;
    • Frameworks for municipal finance management are nearly complete;
    • Basic services, rural development and urban renewal programmes targeting poor people in rural and urban nodes have been instituted.

    Challenges and issues for discussions

    In ensuring delivery at this level of government we will face many problems, the following are some to be discussed and evaluated.

  40. Political education and accountability of elected officials: Of the 8000 elected councillors, approximately 5002 are ANC members. Many are new cadres with limited organisational and political experience, and thus improperly equipped to discharge their functions as local political and economic leaders without capacity-building support. Whilst many councillors benefit from government capacity building programmes, these efforts will have to be complemented by ANC programmes targeted to elected and management cadres deployed to municipal level.

  41. Municipal leadership is tasked with the responsibility to generate mass participation in local governance. ANC branches have been restructured to align with the new municipal boundaries. The task ahead is to ensure that councillors are accountable to branches without undermining their accountability as government officials to the communities that elected them. Care will have to be taken to implement a constructive understanding of accountability.

  42. Ward committees as the instrument for councillor accountability to the community: Ward committees are vehicles designed to ensure municipal responsiveness to local demand and the accountability of councillors to the communities they represent. It is the political responsibility of the ANC to ensure that these structures are not captured by local elites for their own parochial purposes but take root as instruments for strengthening the democratisation of municipal governance and decision-making.

  43. Building strategic municipal leadership: The development of local political leadership capable of translating local governance into sustainable community development is of prime importance if the system is to work. To this end, the ANC must roll out a sustained and intensive strategic skills development programme.

  44. Continuous Assessment of the Roles and Functions of All Three Spheres: Local government is designed to enable local economic development, while the current structures of provinces was determined by the conditions that prevailed during negotiations i.e. the need to accommodate political diversity in the interests of peace without sacrificing national unity.

  45. South Africa has nine provinces and a new system of local government. In building local government, the issue of the distribution of powers and functions between national, provincial and local spheres of government and within the local government sphere will continuously come to the fore and should be the subject of ongoing political focus.

  46. Institutions of Traditional Leadership: The Constitution clearly requires that the institution of traditional leadership is accommodated within the system of democratic government. The current approach has resulted in the institution bargaining a position for itself whereby it is insulated from transformation. The ANC must go beyond saying that the institution should be transformed and take a national stance on what the transformation of the country means for the institution, in particular how we are to give content to the rights to equality of women in an institution that promotes patriarchy in succession and access to land right.

    Parliament, provincial legislatures and transformation
  47. With the end of liberation we were able to make changes. However, our first priority was to make sure that government continued to function. We succeeded in running the institutions, and we have also made significant progress in ensuring that staff is now more representative of the entire population, and that they work in a consultative and democratic way.

  48. Thus we democratised and deracialised but we have not as yet managed to create new visions, and set objectives that match our policy needs. The task of transformation needs to be completed.

  49. We have to provide cadres who share the objectives of the ANC and understand our policies. We need to provide them with the training and skills denied them under apartheid, and so give them the capacity to operate in a new, complex and technical environment. Only then will we be able to transform the institutions, with a new vision and purpose, appropriate objectives, and an organisational design and culture, so that they become the engines for changing our society eradicating the legacy of our past and bringing real improvements in the lives of our people.

  50. Therefore, in looking at the institutions of governance, their structures, relationships and functioning, our starting point must be to examine the structures and institutions we have created and consider whether these have been set up properly, whether we are managing them correctly and if the policies we want to implement are correct.

    Challenges and issues for discussion

Size and Function of the Legislatures

There are serious questions that we need to reconsider in relation to the size and functioning of legislatures and local government structures.

  1. National Assembly: The National Assembly currently consists of 400 members: 200 are elected from a national list and the other 200 from a regional list with proportionality between the provinces. The original ANC proposal in the negotiations was for a single chamber Parliament of 300 Members. In discussion, and to accommodate those who wanted a Senate and National Assembly, we agreed to the present composition, and did not revert to a smaller chamber when we conceded on the Senate. We must consider whether we still need such a large structure given our current human resource constraints or should we opt for 350 Members instead?

  2. National Council of Provinces: The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) provides for consideration by Provinces of national legislation. It consists of 90 members and is composed of a single delegation from each province. Each delegation is composed of 6 permanent Members elected by the Provincial Legislature and 4 non-permanent Members (the Premier or a member delegated by the Premier and 3 special delegates). Is this a good way of providing for the provincial view at national level or is a Chamber with 54 members at National level a viable alternative?

  3. There is provision for local government representation in the NCOP with 10 representatives from SALGA participating as non-voting Members. Is this situation satisfactory, necessary and sufficient to represent local government?

  4. Provincial Legislatures: The sizes of the legislatures vary between 30 and 84 Members. The Executive is chosen from the Members. Seven of the Provinces have 11 Executive members while the Eastern Cape has 10 and the Western Cape 12. In a 30-member legislature one can thus find up to 12 Members who are part of the executive or are office-bearers. Is this a viable legislature, what are other options besides increasing the numbers of MPL’s? Why, given the financial and human resource shortage should we look at other options?

  5. There have been suggestions for a major rethink on Provincial government and strengthening of local government. In many of the smaller countries and in some large ones, the Legislature meets at specific times and Members are able to combine other jobs and professions with their legislative functions. Given the current situation, powers and workload of most provincial legislatures, should we consider a system that provides for MPL’s to function on a part-time basis, with a clearly defined legislative role?

    Representative Governance
  6. The legislatures must be representative, and the ANC has gone a long way in ensuring that its MPs are drawn from all sections in the population. But there are some areas, which we need to re-examine:

  7. All the provincial legislatures do not live up to the agreed quota for women. Should we now insert enforcement measures? Most legislatures do not include sufficient rural people, youth and workers. Should ANC take special measures to ensure these groups are represented on our electoral lists? If so, how?

  8. The legislatures and the law-making process need to be transformed to allow such members to function effectively, i.e. language, simplification of laws and demystification of legislative process, greater support for Members and legislatures.

  9. The rationale for a more participatory form of democracy is part of creating vehicles for dialogue between governments and people and is grounded in the view that where people are not involved in the decisions that affect their lives, social policies and political interventions are likely to fail.

  10. Secondly how do we ensure the participation of Alliance members and structures in policy making through participation in the entire process, i.e. branch, region, provincial and national, and through the activation of the sectoral forums.

  11. The Alliance structures, as organs of civil society should engage with Parliamentary and Legislative Committees through making submissions and participating in hearings (as well as demonstrating at the gates and presenting memoranda!) ANC branches also need to do so.

  12. How do we organise to enable members/branches to interact with institutions of governance and to mobilise political participation by branches and by the community?

    Functioning of ANC governance structures
  13. The 50th Conference considered the Role of the State & Governance and directed the NEC to “make provision for committees with representatives of the Executive, the Legislature, and the constitutional structures (NEC, PEC) to give overall political direction, to provide a forum for consultation and mediation for all those deployed to office in the institutions of governance… (and) further provide mechanisms for resolving matters that cannot be finalised locally”.

  14. In accordance with this resolution, political or governance committees were established in each province and at national level. These structures are not functioning properly, if at all. We need to consider why. It would seem that the absence of political direction has led to political and organisational problems in governance, and these problems in turn have led to non-functional Committees, resulting in:
    • Tensions between legislatures and the Executive, and between office bearers who are ANC members to the extent of leaders taking their differences to the Courts.
    • Conflicts over authority and power i.e. between Mayors and Speakers, PECs and Chief Whips and Presiding Officers.
  15. The absence of functioning and appropriate structures has meant that the major challenge of transforming institutions and building and rooting appropriate institutions and democracy in the long and medium term is not being adequately considered. The focus instead is on solving immediate problems in an ad hoc way.

  16. The challenge is to review why structures don’t function and consider how we ensure that they do. Do we need a new structure to give political direction to those in institutions of governance. If so, what changes should we make?

  17. How do we organize ANC structures/branches, RECs, PECs to monitor and hold to account leaders in governance at every level?

  18. At this stage, we do not need new policies, or new institutions. In governance, most of our problems are due to failures of implementation, arising from a poor human resource capacity, as well as a failure to monitor and provide political direction to those given responsibilities in governance.