n Journal of Public Administration - Longitudinal analysis of South Africa's performance on the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Good governance, the Holy Grail all countries, particularly developing countries, seek has been a topic of interest in Africa since the 1990s, spurred by concerns about the continent's lagging development. This article analyses the quality of South African governance based on 2007 to 2012 Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IAG) reports, which provide substantial, reliable and objective data for analysis. The IAG responds to the need for a relevant, objective, quantitative instrument for measuring quality of African governance and facilitating institutionalisation of good governance. African leaders have been concerned with devising an appropriate mechanism that would not only measure quality of governance but, more importantly, provide an opportunity for countries to improve through learning from one another. Bad governance, invariably synonymous with pursuit and implementation of policies that are not in the interest of majority of citizens or policies with undesirable outcomes, is the bane of many developing countries globally, particularly in Africa. The apartheid regime in South Africa represented an epitome of bad governance. Dismantling of apartheid in 1994 marked a watershed in the country's history and signaled the African National Congress-led democratic government's determination to provide a 'better life for all'. The eve of the twentieth anniversary of majority rule is opportune to assess South African governance. The article notes that although government performance has improved and the country consistently ranked fifth best-governed in Africa, performance in three of the four pillars (Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights and Sustainable Economic Opportunity) has deteriorated from 2006 to 2011. In this period, minimal improvement has occurred in Human Development. It is recommended that government should prioritise Participation, Accountability, Infrastructure and Personal Safety, while not relapsing in the other IAG indicators.

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