n Journal of Public Administration - Rethinking administrative accountability and the rule of law in housing development in South Africa

Volume 50, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



South Africa is facing a backlog with regard to housing provision in both rural and urban areas, even though, over the last two decades, the housing programme has produced large numbers of housing units, which have changed the country's landscape. This article is an ongoing effort to make sense of the continued increase in social protests around service delivery and access to free houses. It focuses on the role and importance of private sector players in housing development under the neo-liberal rationality of rule, and seeks to interrogate how the growing privatisation of the public sector is causing serious problems for administrative accountability. The article further develops an interpretation of how the implementation of the New Public Management (NPM) approach, evident in housing development, contributes to problems of unethical governance and despotism. It is argued that the analytical perspective of institutional assemblage is a useful way of understanding the role of private sector players and un(ethical) governance in housing development. This perspective illuminates two paradoxes that characterise governance arrangements of housing development: while we have a clear rule of law for traditional administration, we have information asymmetries that make it hard to enforce that law; and while we have a rule of law for much administration, problems in enforcing it undermine accountability. The article draws on two main sources. First, it draws on official discourses on governance and housing development, complemented by secondary literature on housing policy and local governance. Second, interviews with informants (housing beneficiaries, state administration and private sector representatives) in housing development were conducted in KwaZulu-Natal. The issue of understanding how to build effective new layers of accountability, supported by an effective rule of law, is discussed.

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Article metrics loading...


This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error