n Journal of Public Administration - Effective oversight in the South African legislative sector : a demand for accountability?

Volume 50, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



Oversight has become an important and interesting field of study. Once referred to as a neglected stepchild (Rockman, 1984), oversight is positioned to be a key factor in strengthening democracy. International organisations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have placed emphasis on the relationship between oversight and democracy. Oversight plays a fundamental role in maintaining checks and balances between the legislative and executive sectors. Premised in the , 1996, this underscores the executive-legislative relations, in terms of the legislature holding the executive to account for its actions. Ideally, oversight is a pivot to ensure that democracy is relished; however, the article argues that, in South Africa, there is an emerging culture relating to a lack of accountability. Twenty years after the advent of democracy, with macro and meso-level institutions in place to support legislative oversight, this may be a result of the unwillingness to conduct oversight. The reasoning behind this contention is the perceived gap in the demand for accountability. Perhaps the question is: who should demand for accountability? Critical, at this instance, is the role that should be played by, among others, the electorate under the Westminster-inspired system that South Africa has espoused. Therefore, this article will explore how the electorate might demand accountability and, in turn, promote effective legislative oversight.

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