n Journal of Public Administration - "Finding our way" : the need for accountable leadership and good governance in South Africa's public services

Volume 49, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



The purpose of this article is to provide a conceptual framework for good governance against the background of an environment of empowered employees and clientele publics. The dawn of the new political order in the Republic of South Africa entailed a democratic culture and good governance in the delivery of public goods. That is, the apartheid national governance was to be replaced with a new democratic Grand National Narrative paradigm. The old life-negating and dehumanising attributes of the closed systems paradigm were to be substituted with the open systems paradigm that endeavours to restore human rights and dignity. The new Grand National Narrative paradigm demands that public servants and services are oriented towards people's needs. A commonly accepted view is that the clientele publics aspire for good governance, which is possible with accountable leadership. Indeed, the new political order was ushered with hyperbolic impulses of public service that is democratic and accountable. Notwithstanding this noble guiding spirit, a democratic South Africa has in time evolved into, if not returned to, the closed systems paradigm in the public service delivery wherein rigidity, fixed control, over-bureaucratisation and imposition exemplifying closed systems paradigm are increasingly the order of the day. This article argues that South Africa's present socio-political reality presents a social ontology with the attributes of the open systems paradigm wherein the publics is supposedly more empowered about human rights to dignity and quality service. It asserts that from Leadership and the New Science perspectives, there is a need for "Finding Our Way" of providing services to empowered publics. The article applies functional approaches to leadership and good governance narratives to navigate the challenges of "Finding Our Way" out of captivity of the closed systems paradigm in service delivery.

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