Architecture of Government: Conference Proceedings

Rafael Leite Julia Jellema-Butler (ed.)

This conference takes place at the tail-end of an era of state capture in South Africa. With the report of the Zondo Commission concluded, how do we move forward from here? GAPP and the participants in this conference hope to assist with upcoming reforms in South Africa. These efforts are particularly important because, more broadly, this conference takes amid a crisis of democracy in South Africa. It is clear that authoritarian models have strong popular appeal, closely tied up with a serious ideological challenge to the dominance of liberal democracy. At the same time, the extent of socioeconomic inequality in countries like South Africa puts into question the notion of democracy as, more than a political system of elections, a system founded on a notion of fundamental social equality.

In South Africa, the crisis of democracy is also underpinned by failures of governance, especially infrastructure challenges and failures of service delivery. Indeed, the current crisis of democracy cannot be separated from the crisis of government. In this context, reforms to the architecture of government may not only address the crisis of government, improving service-delivery outcomes, but may also rejuvenate the democratic project in South Africa.

At the same time, it is not clear that South Africa’s crisis of democracy can be separated from other, similar crises elsewhere. This crisis might be global in scale. Thus there is extraordinary value in working comparatively and collaboratively with practitioners and intellectuals from other countries, especially in the Global South. Our hope is to overcome a certain South African parochialism, by situating the South African crisis in relation to the global crisis, and to draw on global experience to learn from other models of governance.

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