Representative Bureaucracy in Action

Representative Bureaucracy in Action

Country Profiles from the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia

Edited by B. Guy Peters, Patrick von Maravić and Eckhard Schröter

Taking a comparative and analytical perspective, the authoritatively, yet accessibly written, country chapters show how salient the politics of representativeness have become in increasingly diverse societies. At the same time, they illustrate the wide variety of practice based on different political systems, administrative structures, and cultural settings.

Chapter 12: Representative bureaucracy in South Africa

Robert Cameron and Chantal Milne

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, public policy


Considerable attention has been paid to democratic consolidation in South Africa but substantively less has been written on public service transformation. There have only been a few comprehensive studies written on this topic (Picard, 2005; Cameron, 2009). Historically, white Afrikaner males held most middle and senior management positions in the country’s public service. In 1990, 96.9 percent of employees in the total income categories of the South African public service were white (Commonwealth Secretariat, 1991, p. 53). Apartheid also discriminated against white women, and very few held senior management positions. In 1994 South Africa had its first democratic elections and one of the priorities of the new African National Congress (ANC) government was to create a more representative bureaucracy. Unlike countries such as the United States of America, which focused on minority representation, the discourse around representative bureaucracy in South Africa is centered on the representation of the majority in the public service. This makes it an exceptional and interesting case study.

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