NSI’s Ivor Chipkin on The Burning Platform: Discussing Public Service Reform and Policy Challenges in South Africa


On November 2, 2023, Ivor Chipkin, Executive Director and co-founder of the New South Institute (NSI), appeared on The Burning Platform, a podcast hosted by Gareth Cliff and Phumi Mashigo. The discussion centered on the Public Service Amendment Bill, government reform, and the role of citizens in advocating for civil service reform.

The conversation began with an overview of current political issues in South Africa, focusing on recent changes in the public sector. Chipkin shared insights from his experience in public policy, highlighting challenges like unemployment, economic difficulties, and the need for effective policy solutions. He emphasized the role of think tanks and universities in developing these policies and their integration into political debates.

The main topic of discussion was the challenges of professionalising the civil service. Chipkin discussed the move from theory to practice and the importance of public engagement in policy making. He addressed the decline in the quality of public administration in South Africa and the need for administrative reform.

Further, the discussion covered the implementation of policies and their practical administration. Chipkin stressed the importance of an independent, professional public service, free from political interference, for successful policy implementation. He noted the issues in the current South African public service, such as political involvement in recruitment and decision-making processes, leading to reduced accountability and efficiency.

Overall, the podcast provided a detailed examination of the state of public policy and administration in South Africa, highlighting the need for professionalization, practical solutions, and public participation in policy-making.

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