n Journal of Public Administration - The constitutive elements of the crisis of public policy performance in South Africa

Volume 46, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This article argues that the roots of the crisis in public policy performance in South Africa, post 1994, can be traced back to the fact that communities are endorsees rather than co-originators of policies that affect their lives. Hence the article argues that the dilemma of policy performance is the dilemma of the 'first instance' and this is about co-origination and co-authorship of policy issues with citizens and communities. The notion of 'co-origination' derives from Habermas' (Honig 2006:161) thesis that 'in a deliberative democracy, constitutionalism and democracy are co-original'. The notion of co-originality, adopted and elaborated in this article, underlines popular sovereignty in the workings of a democracy. In the context of this article, the argument is that the addressees of public policy should simultaneously be its originators and authors. This then becomes the condition for the legitimate implementation and performance of public policy. The article uses a case study of the Toleni community in the Eastern Cape to argue the case that poor policy performance is due to a lack of co-origination and co-ownership with communities. Public policy performance in the context of this article infers policy activity which yields intended results and anticipated outcomes. Inadvertently, this leads to the discussion of problems of policy implementation and how they can be resolved. The situation of the Toleni community narrates a pitiful story of marginalisation during the time of a supposedly inclusive democracy. The Restitution Policy as embodied by the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994 'talks' in a language different to that of the Toleni community. From field work conducted, it appears that if communities in the areas including Toleni had been co-originators of the policy and issues it addresses, many of the pitfalls at the level of policy implementation would have been avoided.

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