n Journal of Public Administration - Transforming the public service to support the developmental state

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



In the wake of the country's first democratic elections in 1994, the ANC-led South African government moved decisively to transform state institutions, in particular the public service, which were essential to the transformation of society. This article reflects on the more important transformation initiatives since 1994, identifying three distinct phases: 1994-1999 where the emphasis was on transformation of legislation and policy along with institutional restructuring; 1999-2004 which focused on consolidation and implementation of policy, in particular efforts at increasing access to government services, anti-corruption measures and the provision of hands-on support to challenged departments; and 2004-2009 in which government researched and debated the capacity and organisation of the state, including proposals to create a Single Public Service encompassing all three spheres of government. The article analyses some of the public administration trends in the first 15 years of democracy, including decentralisation, integration and professionalisation of the public service. The current focus of the ANC Government on building a developmental state is analysed, and its conjunctural manifestation in the South African constitutional state it describes. It concludes that priorities going forward should include continued efforts to expand access to services, ongoing attention to the capacity of the state, especially skills development, and the implementation of macro-organisational reforms.

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