Journal of Public Administration - Volume 50, Issue 3, 2015
Volumes & issues
Volume 50, Issue 3, 2015
Building a humanitarian public service imbued with strong ethics and values : in honour of great leaders of our time : editorialAuthor Sibusiso Vil-NkomoSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 420 –422 (2015)More Less
This September edition of the Journal of Public Administration is a collection of articles that reflect and close an era of the great public servants of our time. It challenges future generations to take the baton of humanitarianism and make it a reality for service delivery, human development, responsible leadership and ethical behaviour in the conduct of public affairs. For reasons of context, the edition starts with an article that asks an important question, which has always been a firmament of the disciplinary discourse: Is public administration a science? This question is important in theorising humanitarian public service. A reflection on it is followed by an argument for African public administration theory. Yet another article that contextualises the thematic thrust of this edition determines the meaning and significance of "conscience"' and "consciousness" in public leadership. Following this are articles on state transformation, one focusing on class dynamics, while the other asks the question of whether South Africa is a developmental state. In situating South Africa in world affairs, a question is asked in the article that follows those on state transformation: are country rankings neo-liberal tools or perceptions? Against the context set by all these articles, a humanitarian public service is theorised in the analyses of the leadership traits of Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Mohandas Gandhi. The theorisation continues with a discourse on "public service by, of and for the public". This is followed by an article on the critical analysis of the post-1994 administrative culture. Induction training is emphasised as important to achieve a humanitarian public service.
In conversation with Professor Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo : recipient of the South African Association of Public Administration and Management's highest honour : exemplar profileSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 423 –438 (2015)More Less
The Journal of Public Administration belongs to the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM) - the custodian of the fraternity. Its pride lies in its thought leadership, as demonstrated in the scholarship of its high-impact publication, as the bibliometric indicators show, and in its well-themed conferences hosted annually where, coupled with the rigour of the discourses, excellence is recognised. In the 14th Annual Conference of SAAPAM, themed The path traversed - 20 years of democracy in South Africa, a Life-Time Achievement Award was presented to Professor Sibusiso Vil-Nkomo for his outstanding contribution and exemplary leadership in the field of public administration. This is the highest honour the fraternity bestows on an individual whose contribution shapes the evolution of the discipline, both as a science and as praxis. The fraternity finds Vil-Nkomo's scholarship authoritative, while his contribution to the transformation of the public service remains an indelible imprint on the history of the post-apartheid state. At the time of the award, Vil-Nkomo was part of the advisory board constituted by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu - who at the time was leading the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) - to assist her in establishing the National School of Government (NSG), a strategic initiative to build the capacity of the state.
Science of public administration : critiquing the past, recognising the present and imagining the futureSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 439 –465 (2015)More Less
"If nature abhors a vacuum, historiography loves a void because it can be filled with any number of plausible accounts." These are Nicholas Howe's words, which we find apt to punctuate the article's reconsideration of the question: is Public Administration a science? This is an old question in the historiography of the discipline, which just doesn't go away. It emerged in the 20th century to seemingly frame the rejoinders to the contentions that Public Administration is a science. In the 18th century, Cameralism had been preoccupied with what it referred to as the science of government. Did this refer to Public Administration? In other words, is the science of government the same as the science of Public Administration? To some, these questions are pedantic, bordering on trivialities. This cannot be true. On the contrary, they are important for seeking conceptual clarity, especially in the discourse, and as important as the science of a discipline. The reconsideration of the science of Public Administration in the contemporary discourse inevitably invokes nostalgia. For, it has been hotly contested in the evolution of Public Administration as a field of study. This article is intended to contribute to the discourse on the science of Public Administration, starting with a critique of some of the perspectives that emerged in the 20th century scholarship, contesting the idea of Public Administration as a science. This is followed by a recognition of the contemporary scholarly endeavours aimed at the "epistemological introspection" of the disclipine. Towards the end, the future of the discipline is imagined. The logic of the article is framed with the intention to critically review the past, recognise the present and imagine the future of the discipline. Based on the critique of the 20th century scholarship and the analysis of the contemporary scholarly endeavours, with insights from the theory of evolution and African scholarship, the article contends that Public Administration is a science. The purpose of the article is simply to add to the contestations.
Author Benon C. BashekaSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 466 –484 (2015)More Less
The African continent has suffered a rather tormented history, following different historical epochs like shadows of colonialism, conquest, neo-colonialism, global capitalism and foisting upon the western organizational management/leadership practices. The indigenous systems of governance are so much neglected that they hardly receive the significant scholarly attention they deserve in most public administration write ups and curricula in African universities. This article sheds light on Africa's indigenous administrative systems, which have been portrayed as rather troubled, chaotic and biased in the literature, especially where western ideas are portrayed as superior to indigenous systems. The article suggests that African scholars are primarily duty bound to portray a better picture of the administrative structures. The tendency, by the architects of the colonial enterprise, to believe that Africa had no administration worthy of the name needs to be rejected, while compelling facts and examples to solidify the robustness of the pre-colonial governance apparatus are advanced. This article advocates for a deeper understanding of the indigenous governance, administration and management systems, practices that, when well documented, should inform a theory of African public administration. The article examines two opposing views in the existing literature, but relies on the second set of ideas.
Meaning and significance of conscience and consciousness in public leadership in the post-1994 South AfricaAuthor Kwandiwe KondloSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 485 –495 (2015)More Less
The article examines what some may regard as the intangible elements of public leadership in South Africa. The absolutely intangible elements of public leadership are difficult to pin down, yet their presence is felt when they are there as is the case when they are absent. One could argue that the simmering tensions arising out of popular discontent, sometimes finding expression in isolated incidents of public protest and sometimes in performances by opposition parties in parliament, attest to the fact that there is something missing in the edifice of public leadership. That which is missing is the presence of the intangible aspects of public leadership that this article seeks to examine. The article invokes the significance of the twin notions of conscience and consciousness as intangible imperatives whose absence is creating challenges in public leadership in South Africa's young democracy. The article takes the reader back to some old but still influential, scholarly perspectives from Karl Marx, Carl Jung and Chabani Manganyi in an effort to examine the meaning and significance of consciousness. The article also draws from isiXhosa, to demonstrate the richness and depth of this indigenous language to help us understand the deeper meaning of the concept of conscience, which in isiXhosa translates as isazela or umvandedwa. These concepts are meant, in isiXhosa, to tell one something about the roundedness, or lack of it, of one's ethical being. This is not about being perfect or about absolute morality, but about self-reflexivity or the ability for personal reflection to help in self-correction, which defeats the "egoistic self" so as to serve the overarching greatness of community, kinship and societal causes. It is in line with this conception that one is deemed healthy in mind and spirit, hence the saying in isiXhosa, isazela siyamakha umntu which translated to English means "conscience maketh the person". The ripple effects of "a living conscience" as opposed to a "dead conscience" are what emerge from the isiXhosa idiom isazela esiphilileyo nengqiqo ezinzileyo. But the article proceeds to examine instances where lapses of "conscience and consciousness" in leadership performance in South Africa occurred to create a basis for the theorisation of conscience and consciousness in public leadership. The article concludes that, as long as public leaders fail to prioritise self-transformation and strict adherence to a code of leadership values as an indispensable component of the leadership, the ripple effects will eventually destroy public institutions and public life.
Author Manamela D.J. MatshabaphalaSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 496 –504 (2015)More Less
This article seeks to make a contribution to the project of narrative development in the universe of Public Administration. As it were, this article is in agreement with the understanding that metaphysics, which is a branch of philosophy that studies reality, that is both physical and social reality, does in several ways have an influence on the narrative construction in social and political philosophy. This suggests that studies in natural reality, in more ways than one, informed the content of studies on social reality, as in social and political philosophies. Every society in the world has its own worldview of both the physical and social realities that issue from their cultures. Western philosophies, as well, come across as products of western cultural systems with major influences on social and political systems. African philosophies, too, are found to be products of African cultural systems, political philosophies and legacies. In world communities' social and political philosophies, we come across these communities' concepts of leadership and good governance. This is with reference to the leadership and governance models that would assist with the delivery of an enabling environment for the attainment of public value, the life of dignity and the pursuit of happiness for the communities in question.
This article seeks to add to the project of narrative construction and development in Public Administration with some of the insights drawn from the philosophy traditions in Africa that also draw their materials from, and talk to, the African reality. This is with reference to the traditions and epistemological frontiers such as ethnophilosophy, nationalistic-ideological philosophy, professional philosophy and philosophic sagacity. Some of these traditions are found to be in resonance with the Batho Pele principles that serve as guidelines for leadership and good governance in the public service, and they are also found to have outlived the colonial overlay. This article argues that there are leadership and good governance lessons that can be learnt from these traditions, philosophies and systems. This is with reference to those values borne of African worldviews that are found to be still relevant to the worlds of both leadership and governance in the public service such as respect, a caring public service, a considerate public service and a public service that is able to do more for society with limited resources. The public service landscape presents leadership and governance approaches that are in some ways out of kilter with the African social reality. This article postulates the integration of some of the enduring African philosophy elements into the Grand National Narrative for the delivery of the public servants and public service of the future.
Author Leland WareSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 505 –521 (2015)More Less
The civil rights and anti-apartheid movements produced two iconic leaders, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. Both leaders confronted white supremacist regimes with no resources beyond the volunteers who participated in organised protests. They ultimately prevailed against tremendous odds. Segregation and apartheid shared a common purpose. They rigidly controlled each country's black population. Laws and practices determined where blacks could reside, where they could work and where they could attend schools. Under apartheid, every South African was classified into one of three racial groups: white, coloured and black. Blacks could not own property in 80 percent of South Africa's land area. Racial segregation was enforced in all public areas including buildings, services and transportation.
In America's southern states, schools, restaurants, hotels, theatres, public transportation and waiting rooms were segregated, as were elevators, parks, public restrooms, hospitals, drinking fountains, prisons and places of worship. In the northern states, many restaurants, theatres and hotels would not serve black patrons. Segregated neighbourhoods were perpetuated by the real estate industry. Blacks were confined to occupations such as maids, cooks, chauffeurs, porters and labourers.
This article examines the ways in which segregation and apartheid were fought with marches, boycotts and demonstrations and, in the case of South Africa, armed resistance. King and Mandela took courageous stands against unjust laws. Mandela was banned by the South African government and subsequently imprisoned for 27 years. King gave his life to the struggle when he was assassinated in 1968. Despite the many obstacles, both leaders were able to lead the decades-long struggle to end segregation and apartheid. The Civil Rights Movement in America culminated with the federal legislation of the 1960s. South African apartheid lasted for a generation longer, ending in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela as president. In both countries, justice eventually prevailed. "[T]he arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice".
Source: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 522 –531 (2015)More Less
This article sketches the leadership skills and lifetime commitments to peacemaking of three individuals: Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. The choice of the personalities is based on the fact that they not only made a difference in the lives of communities and nations, but they also made contributions in the advancement of a field of academic study: conflict resolution and peacemaking. Based on the literature review we conducted, these three leaders appear to share Drucker's characterisation of effective leaders. A sketch for each is provided, which starts with a critical incident in the life of each that symbolises his leadership style. This is followed by a brief description of the transformative attributes they share, and concludes with a table depicting the meaning of the accomplishment of each.
Author Jonathan - INSEAD StorySource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 532 –548 (2015)More Less
In 2012, a panel was set up, chaired by Trevor Manuel, South Africa's former Finance Minister, to examine the validity of the World Bank's annual Doing Business report. The Bank's annual Doing Business report judges 185 countries on 10 criteria and compiles an index on the ease of doing business, assigning each country a rank. Governments, it was observed, tend to attach great weight to the ranking whether their country features in the lead platoon, brings up the rear, edges upwards or slips down. The report recorded a host of detailed complaints, such as a focus on the country's largest city, or the small sample sizes employed. As the report stated, "It is important to remember that the (Doing Business) report is intended to be a pure knowledge project. As such, its role is to inform policy, not to prescribe it or outline a normative position, which the rankings to some extent do. "Emotions", Trevor Manuel observed, "were charged at both poles of the debate." At one end, were those who did well in the rankings or who were in broad agreement about the report's underlying assumptions and, at the other end, were those who considered that their countries were being penalised, that the rankings did not capture the important nuances that often make the difference in business decisions, or who disagreed with the report's underlying assumptions. In other words, the panel was addressing the fundamental question of what constitutes best practice in national economic policy, what are the relevant criteria to judge, whether it was appropriate to rank diverse countries according to a single set of criteria, and whether the report provided a sound basis on which to establish public or corporate policies. This article will argue that there can be no single set of answers to these questions, and for two very good reasons.
First, the globalised world economy is composed of separate civilisations, nations and states, with their own histories and peculiarities, living in an unprecedented degree of intimacy one with another, but nonetheless notably distinct, and facing their own peculiar mix of challenges. What is good for one, in short, may not be good for another. Second, the world is inherently pluralist, so that there are as many answers to the questions as there are participants in the debate. Nonetheless, coexistence among the peoples of the global community assumes that there must be some broadly conceived criteria of right or wrong, of better or worse. We cannot live in a postmodern world where anything goes: we cannot live without some agreement on rules, criteria and ethics.
Author Joel NetshitenzheSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 549 –561 (2015)More Less
An attempt is made in this article to dissect the state of the South African state post-1994 as well as class dynamics that attach to the challenge of the liberation movement's ascendancy into formal organs of political power. In this regard, ideas presented in various fora are integrated. Few issues have been selected 21st to illustrate the strategic challenges that South Africa faces as it strives to build a state that can speed up social transformation. For purposes of this treatise, it is not necessary to trace the evolution of the state as such - the Athenian and Spartan versions, the pre-colonial manifestations of social organisation as in the Mapungubwe and other African civilisations and the mfecane wars of nation-formation, or the rise of the colonial state in the geography today called South Africa. Nor is an attempt made to interrogate the Weberian, micro-foundational and Marxist theories of the state and their utility. Drawing from this tapestry, some generalisations are made on the state of our state today and its interplay with class dynamics, and the actions required to ensure that the state plays an optimal role in leading the efforts to improve people's quality of life.
Author Chris LandsbergSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 562 –577 (2015)More Less
South Africa a developmental state? South Africa has since the dawn of democracy in 1994, and the assumption of power of the African National-led government, struggled to come up with a unique and workable state-led development model that would help it to confront the legacies of apartheid. By 2004, one decade into the post-apartheid era, it began to play with the idea of transforming the Republic into a developmental state, and this debate drew much fascination and interest. Having learnt some tough lessons from its GEAR experience, and public reactions to this contentious trajectory, the Mbeki government approached its second term with confidence, and wasted little time in introducing one of the most important debates in post-apartheid South Africa, the idea that South Africa wished to become a developmental state. Henceforth, the Republic would embark on a new developmental path, one that would seek to openly challenge the Washington consensus, and to bring the state firmly back in. It would start the long and painstaking process of transforming South Africa into a developmental state, (led by the African National Congress). This intention has since been reflected in speeches and communiqués by top government officials. Government hoped to transcend the sterile capitalism-vs-socialism debate with the introduction of this new development path. It would learn lessons from the experiences of the East-Asian Tigers of the 1960s and 1970s, as opposed to the obsession with Western development experiences and models.
It was in his 2004 State of the Nation Address that President Thabo Mbeki declared these government intentions. Determined to overcome apartheid's devastating legacies, and convinced that to pursue a developmental path as a means of realising this strategic goal, Mbeki declared that government had crafted a new "comprehensive programme to grow the economy". Having depicted South Africa as a country of "two economies" and "two races", with one of these racialised economies being largely poor and black, and the other predominantly white and prosperous, Mbeki vowed that his government would pursue "interventions in both the first and second economies". The Jacob Zuma government has now appropriated the idea of South Africa as a "capable developmental state" and has hinged all its bets on the much-vaunted National Development Plan (NDP). The question that remains is when the South African government can move beyond stated policy and rhetoric and focus on the hard-nosed business of process and institution-building as it seeks to become this capable developmental state. South Africa may soon learn that a developmental state is not one that comes about through declarations, fiats and diktats. Instead, it is the result of a long, drawn out process that comes about through following meticulous benchmarks and criteria that need constant cementing and re-cementing.
Source: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 578 –588 (2015)More Less
A public service by, of and for the public - a utopia or a realisable ideal? This question undergirds the thematic essence of this article, which is penned from the optimism of a former senior public servant and a freedom fighter, who was a member of Umkhonto we Sizwe [Spear of the Nation] - the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). For contextual reasons the article starts by succinctly historicising the struggle against apartheid. This is important in order to establish a premise from which "a public service by, of and for the public" could be understood. Thereafter, the article analyses how the ANC uses state power to achieve a humanitarian public service. The article offers important suggestions to this end.
Author William GumedeSource: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 589 –599 (2015)More Less
The new democratic government in 1994 inherited the apartheid public service, which combined the so-called former "independent" states, homelands and Bantustans, which all had distinct administrative cultures. Even though genuine attempts have been made since 1994 to transform the apartheid-inherited public service, by democratising it, making it developmental, effective and accountable - changing its culture - the results have at best been uneven. A key part of the post-1994 transformation reforms of the public service was a strong emphasis on changing the racial make-up of the public administration, not only to make it more representative, but also to transform the racially discriminatory developmental outlook of the state. The organisational culture of the ANC, South Africa's dominant governing party, has had a strong influence on the administrative culture of the democratic public service. In the post-1994 era, some of the apartheid and Bantustan administrative cultures have been entrenched in the democratic public service and have been reinforced with undemocratic aspects of the ANC's liberation movement organisational culture, which have come to dominate the party since it took power. The article will argue that the ANC government has mostly succeeded in transforming the racial make-up, but that it has not transformed the administrative culture of the public service into one that is democratic, developmental and accountable. The inability to transform the administrative culture of South Africa's public service is the root of its poor performance. Given the ANC's dominance, to transform South Africa's public service's administrative culture, the ANC's organisational culture will also have to be overhauled.
Source: Journal of Public Administration 50, pp 600 –619 (2015)More Less
One of the tools for creating a professional South African public service, committed to the values, principles and ethics of government, is a compulsory, government-wide and generic induction programme. The Public Administration, Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) - now the National School of Government (NSG) - was tasked with the development and rollout of such a programme. Due to the size of the South African Public Service, geographic realities, the limitations of traditional induction programmes and the value of workplace learning, finding an innovative approach to learning and the development of new entrants was essential. The result was that conventional contact tuition evolved into a blended learning approach, enabling participants to tap into the benefits of eLearning. This research article focuses on induction training in the South African Public Service with emphasis on the rationale and context of induction, as well as the function of ICTs in facilitating learning and development across the public service.