NSI’s Virtual Discussion: The Future of South Africa and Public Administration Reform


The New South Institute recently hosted an online event entitled “South Africa: An Agenda for Reform”. The event was attended by an engaged audience that fluctuated between 35 and 40 participants throughout the discussion. Moderated by NSI Executive Director and Co-Founder Ivor Chipkin, the virtual discussion focused on NSI’s recently published policy brief on public administration reform in South Africa.

The event centred on discussing the politicisation of administration, highlighting how it weakens agencies’ ability to deliver services and launch large-scale economic projects. Chipkin pointed out the detrimental effects of this politicization on democracy. The conversation also touched on the government’s National Framework towards the Professionalisation of the Public Sector, published by the National School of Government in 2021, which surprised many when it was approved by Cabinet in September 2022. The Public Service Commission (PSC) was initially approved to oversee the implementation of this framework.

Watch the full recording of the event

In the midst of significant shifts in the government’s agenda, the discussion highlighted the need for mobilisation to ensure continued momentum in the public debate on the issue. This strategy aims to use the current focus on the issue as a means of suggesting improvements that could further strengthen the government’s proposals.

Chipkin also discussed the Public Management Act, a previously crucial piece of legislation which has now contributed to government dysfunction. Other points of discussion included the potential separation of politics from administration, and the government’s current proposal to give more responsibility and power to the National School of Government to implement a pre-entry test for public service.

A Q&A session followed the presentation, wherein the audience asked thoughtful questions about civil service reforms in South Africa and the potential roles of civil society in instigating these changes.

The Daily Maverick provided comprehensive coverage of this event, highlighting the discussions and points of interest in a single, well-written article.

Overall, the virtual discussion succeeded in bringing together interested parties, including representatives from various civil society organizations, to engage in meaningful discussion about the future of public administration reform in South Africa. The sense of urgency and excitement surrounding the proposed reforms was palpable and is expected to continue resonating in future dialogues and actions.

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