n Journal of Public Administration - Bringing politics and contestation back into monitoring and evaluation

Volume 49, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The government of South Africa has, over the past few years, introduced a new, integrated approach to monitoring and evaluation. The system, as implemented, is predicated on a belief that government needs a 'strong centre' to drive the development agenda, and that a coherent structure, with evidence-based reporting at the apex of government, is essential for service delivery across society. This article serves to explore this orientation, with a view to highlighting some of the difficulties embedded in it. The analysis primarily focuses on the extent to which the unfolding system fosters better and more inclusive policy-making. It is postulated that the current strategy of information coherence for generating conclusive reports on implementation progress, for monitoring at the centre of government, comes at the expense of inclusivity and substantive accountability. By engaging with the overall approach, including its structural, systemic and capacity manifestations, the enquiry provides a perspective on the importance of appreciating the politics in policy and decision processes. To facilitate future reflection on the unfolding system, the article concludes with a perspective on moving away from the current centre-dominated approach to one that is focused on opening spaces for wider contestation on delivery and the evidence generated by technocrats.

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