Edited by Andrew Massey and Karen Johnston
Chapter 6: Public service reform in South Africa: from apartheid to new public management
Public service reform in South Africa has entailed the transition from an apartheid-based, public service to a more democratic administration. The major challenge was to move from a state that provided services predominantly to a small white constituency to one that also provided decent services to the disadvantaged black majority. The post-apartheid state is pursuing the provision of services to all its constituents, thus increasing its target group from approximately 4 million to 50 million. The public service was not only apartheid based; it was also outdated by international standards. Sanctions and boycotts had contributed to an isolated public service that in some respects was run on scientific management lines. The new South African government introduced new public management (NPM) reforms in order to modernize the public service, although there has been some debate about how extensively they have been implemented (Cameron, 2009). This chapter plans to examine the three main components of NPM that were adopted in South Africa. First, there is administrative decentralization (or delegation), which aimed to give line managers greater managerial authority and responsibility. The second component of NPM that is of relevance is performance management. If managers are to be given greater autonomy, they need to be held accountable through performance standards. Explicit standards and measures of performance require goals to be defined and performance targets to be met. This can take the form of using performance indicators and setting targets. The third element is that of corporatization.
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