n Journal of Public Administration - From compliance to performance : a leadership challenge in the South African Public Service

Volume 44, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The South African public service is faced with challenges from different fronts to deliver services. Much has been achieved in the fourteen years of democracy in South Africa, but more could have been achieved, especially in the area of policy implementation and performance improvement. The major challenge is that, despite intense endeavors directed at improving service delivery, lack of, or mediocre delivery continues to plague the public service. While the availability of solid public policy indicates the beginning of the process of delivery, on its own is insufficient if not supported by effective systems and processes for actual delivery. Part of this problem can be attributed to leaders' inability not only to just comply with the requirements of policy, but to also ensure that compliance is accompanied by and lead to expected performance. In this era of management, little emphasis needs to be placed on compliance but rather what compliance requires. This article considers why, despite compliance, public service delivery is not improving. It also considers the role of leadership in the public service and reasons for its inability to move beyond compliance.

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