Cet article a été rédigé par Liudmila Vedmetskaya, membre du projet Euro-BRICS de LEAP, dans le cadre de ses études à l’université de sciences politiques de Saint Petersbourg en Russie. Il est uniquement disponible en Anglais.
As an important player on the African continent and its representative in the BRICS South Africa plays a significant role on the international arena. From another side, colonial and apartheid past created a huge number of obstacles on the way of modernization of politico-administrative regime and creation of national competitive advantages in South Africa. That is why since 1994 new political elite have tried to solve the main problems with the help of new development institutes in the sphere of public policy, political administration and economics – like National Planning Commission or Public Service Commission created in 1996. Moreover, the government of South Africa realised that it is vital to support the development of information and communication technologies (ICT) and innovations to be competitive and flexible in the modern world.
Politico-Administrative Regime and Development Institutes in South Africa
The XXI century did not bring the world peace or stability. The majority of problems as permanent political, economic and ecological crises, international conflicts, threat of terrorism and even wars affect modern states. No doubt, vulnerable countries like African ones experience the most negative effects of instability of the contemporary international environment.
The ability of the modern state to be competitive on the international level depends on its capacity to be flexible and proactive in dramatically changing world. “The lost continent” with incredible natural and human resources but at the same time with enormous poverty and political-administrative obstacles faces socio-economic and political challenges every day while making an effort “to create a miracle” (Skidelsky, 2009) – sensitive governability, dynamic capacities and economic competitiveness. African continent is a home to more than one-sixth of the world habitants (Continent Populations 2016), but brings only 6% of the world’s GDP (Gross domestic product 2015).
African countries fight with the consequences of their colonial past (for example, South Africa has a history of almost three and a half centuries of colonialism and apartheid (Social, Political and Cultural Challenges of the BRICS, 2015, p. 13)), corruption and waste of natural resources every day but not all of them reach success in achievement of inclusive economic growth or creation of the flexible government with stable politico-administrative regime.
There are some African countries like Nigeria, Morocco or South Africa which are more successful in developing and support of these processes. Taking 32th place in the countries’ rating of GDP (Gross domestic product 2015) and 49th place in the Global Competitiveness Index 2015-2016 raking (The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, 2015, p. 11) South Africa is an important international player and a worthy representative of the continent (see table 1, graph 1). That is why the membership of this state in the BRICS is logic and important for the development of this union.
Table 1. The main characteristics of the BRICS countries
GDP (US$ billions)
Global Competitiveness Index (Rank Score (out of 140))
75 (57 in 2014-2015)
45 (53 in 2014-2015)
55 (71 in 2014-2015)
28 (28 in 2014-2015)
49 (56 in 2014-2015)
Source: Countries in the World by Population (2016), The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, List of Countries by Projected (GDP 2016)
South Africa as other BRICS countries faced the necessity to adapt politico-administrative regime and economic policy to the requirements of the modern world. In the beginning of XXI century the attention to the problem of governability in the BRICS countries rose dramatically. The reason of this phenomena is hidden in the world crisis’ factors of 2014-2015. They stimulated the search of the new models of political and administrative governance, which can provide changes of practices of relationships between state and society. Another important moment for this group of countries is effectiveness of inclusive economic growth and realisation of the fairness principle in public policy (Volkova, Potapenko, 2015, p. 76). In this case creation of the development institutes is an important factor of achieving these goals at all levels of governance.
2. Influence of the apartheid past on forming of the modern politico-administrative regime in South Africa
South Africa is a federal state with 54 million habitants comprising of a national government and nine provincial governments which were formed in 1994 (and the local government system of wall-to-wall municipalities was established only in 2000 (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 430)). The constitution of South Africa was adopted in 1996 and implemented officially on 4 February, 1997. Under the political system of South Africa, the President is the executive head of the state and of the cabinet elected by the parliament for two five year terms, so the state is a parliamentary republic. South Africa is composed of three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial (Political System of South Africa).
Despite the fact that South Africa is characterised by the international organisations as a free and democratic society (Freedom in the World 2016), colonial and apartheid past leave a lot of problems and deformations in political and economic spheres. Moreover, “citizens find that their legislative institutions, designed to interact with and represent them, are ineffectual, distant and unresponsive. They are intensely critical of all three levels of government: national, provincial and local” (Freedom House). Imperfection of the political regime and economic situation rises discontent of the people: South Africa “lost about 42 million worker days in terms of productivity over the past five years” which makes the country seemingly the “strikers’ capital” of the world”. (Cronjé, 2015, p. 176).
South Africa is called a “rainbow nation”: with its 11 official languages, diversity of nations (79.2% of African indigenous people, 8.9% of Coloured, 2.9% of Indians and 8.9% of White and 0.5% of others (Khan, 2015, p. 182)) and tragic past of white domination this country is very sensitive to the questions of equality of all groups of society: “The colonial period under the British was largely characterised by the extraction of raw materials in a quest to accumulate capital for the Crown whereas for almost half a century under apartheid rule, racial segregation was used as a means for both capital accumulation and to exercise political hegemony over the majority of the indigenous population” (Khan, 2015, p. 182).
Only after April 1994 South Africa started to adopt democratic principles of governance to the construction of social relations: “It was only when the African National Congress (ANC) took office in 1994 that South Africa would truly deinstitutionalize the traditional ethnic and racial cleavages that had long prevailed in the country. Notwithstanding, South Africa would herald the arrival of the twenty-first century with an enormous social debt, particularly in relation to those that represent its original inhabitants – the black Africans” (Gomes dos Santos, 2015, p. 342).
Only non-contributory monetary transfers to the poorest segments of society (the majority of them were black Africans) could equalize the economic situations of the state: “In 2010, around 30% of the South-African people (14 million) received some kind of cash transfer, especially children, people with disabilities and elderly in poverty.” (Ibidem). Expert of the development of the BRICS countries A. Borges points out that if there were no child support grant in South Africa, about half of the population would very soon fall into the social situation defined as “below the poverty line” (Borges, 2015, p. 213).
From another side, spending of great part of the national budget to the subsidies and transfers instead of state investment to the education and health sector brake development of the country. The strategy of inclusive growth should balance these phenomena with the help of creation development institutes both in economic and politico-administrative sphere (Haussmann: Economics Needs an Inclusive Growth, 2014).
In South Africa there is a great potential for the inclusive growth and development but also there are evident obstacles. One of the most harmful affect from the apartheid past is that it became also a reason of deformation of governance principles. South Africa’s public service, which was formed under apartheid, was “unrepresentative of the population profile of the country in terms of race, gender, and disability”. The historical tragedy of the country is that “the Nationalist government, which was in power from 1948 to 1994, achieved its aims by excluding Blacks from participating in governance and administration at the highest levels of government” (Hilliard, 2002, p. 179). But the public service was not only based on the principles of apartheid regime, “it was also outdated by international standards. Sanctions and boycotts had contributed to an isolated public service that in some respects was run on scientific management lines” (Cameron, 2015).
In 1991 it was estimated that 91,5% of South Africa’s public servants in the top echelons were White males. By contrast, in 1997, 79% of all public servants turned up to be Black, of which 38% held positions of director or higher. In 1997, women accounted for 49% of the public service, although only 11% of the women in the South African public service were at director level or higher (Hilliard, 2002, p. 180). Despite the fact that impetuous change in the public service sphere shows the respect to the democratic principles of forming the system of public servants, such global modifications couldn’t help affecting the quality of the bureaucrats’ work. It is hard to imagine that dismissal of 80% of public servants in 6 years and their replacement by the people who have had a great limitation to the higher and professional education during half of century could create only positive effects in politico-administrative sphere. Education is still a feeble and vulnerable sphere of South African social policy: this country takes only 120th place in the states’ rating by Global Competitiveness Index (The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, 2015, p. 30).
Nevertheless, South Africa’s government realises these difficulties. That is why the idea of necessity to provide the people with all levels of education of high-quality takes one of the first places in the National Development Plan 2030 – which is a socioeconomic policy blueprint for action – created by National Planning Commission in 2012 (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 27).
The Commission’s Diagnostic Report, which took place in June 2011, pointed out South Africa’s achievements and shortcomings since 1994 to create a new politico-administrative regime. “It identified a failure to implement policies and an absence of broad partnerships as the main reasons for slow progress, and set out nine primary challenges:
1. Too few people work;
2. The quality of school education for black people is poor;
3. Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained;
4. Spatial divides hobble inclusive development;
5. The economy is unsustainably resource intensive;
6. The public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality;
7. Public services are uneven and often of poor quality;
8. Corruption levels are high;
9. South Africa remains a divided society” (Ibidem, p. 25).
No doubt, after 1994 the politico-administration regime changed, but there are still consequences of the previous policy. Corruption is named as one of the most serious obstacle for the state development by ¼ of the population: “the Human Sciences Research Council’s annual South African Social Attitudes Survey shows the proportion of people who think that tackling corruption should be a national priority almost doubling, from 14% to 26% in the five-year period between 2006 and 2011” (Newham, 2014).
Perception of corruption in public services remains relatively high: South Africa got a score of 44 (which is 2 points better than in 2013) out of 100 and ranked 61th (67th in 2014) out of 175 countries in the 2015 Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TICPI) (Transparency International, 2015) (see table 2, graph 2). Despite the fact that within the BRICS countries situation with corruption in South Africa is much better, the state experience difficulties in development of social and economic spheres because of the deformation of political governance: for instance, inefficient government bureaucracy and corruption are ones of the most problematic factors for doing business in South Africa (The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, p. 326).
Table 2. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for the BRICS countries
|Country||TICPI (rank)||TICPI (score 2015)||TICPI (score 2014)|
Source: Transparency International, 2015. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A country’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries in the index.
To solve this problem South Africa has a number of agencies mandated to fight corruption. These are the South African Police Service, the Special Investigations Unit, the Assets Forfeiture Unit (based in the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions), the Public Service Commission (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 447).
South Africa’s current anti-corruption policy was borne out of an initiative that began in 2001, “when the Cabinet decided to fast-track Government efforts to tackle corruption. To this end, the Government established a National Anti-Corruption Forum to coordinate and integrate the Government’s anti-corruption work and to develop a strategy for sustainable preventing and combating corruption. Cabinet approved the resulting Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy in early 2002” (Crane-Charef, 2015, p. 24). These efforts translated into the adoption of a legal anticorruption framework that includes the National Prosecuting Authority, which is the centralised prosecuting authority; the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit; the Special Investigating Unit, the Special Tribunal Act and the Public Protector who is appointed by the President and is independent of Government. The Public Protector’s office investigates public complaints, including with respect to corruption against government agencies and officials (Crane-Charef, 2015, p. 25).
One of the main characteristics of the anti-corruption policy in South Africa is that government formed the system of separated and independent institutions. For this reason, “some have argued that the multiplicity of anti-corruption agencies undermines the fight against corruption as it divides resources and has resulted in an uncoordinated approach” (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 447).
3. Political Governance and Development Institutes in South Africa
Dynamic capabilities which are prerequisite for the formation of national competitive advantages, are embodied in development policy through the development institutes. Favourable conditions and the unique characteristics of the state are reflected through the institutionalization and become a part of the development strategy of the state.
In this paper development institutes are defined as rules, regulations and organizational-management tools created by the government to stimulate reaching the main goals of the state development policy. Strategic ability of the state to implement development policy consistently is essential to adapt to the environment and even transform it. From the standpoint of economic theory development institutes may be presented as the form of “institutional infrastructure that supports the generation of productive innovations (e.g. technology parks, venture capital funds, business incubators)” (Sablin, 2012, p. 33).
Development institutions are social mechanisms of influence on the socio-economic processes in order to stimulate innovative activity of economic entities and modernization of the economy and socio-political institutions. South Africa as a member of the BRICS states and a dynamically developing country has an evident experience in forming development institutes and politico-administrative regime which is adapted to the contemporary challenges. It is evident that “by BRIC standards South Africa is a small player, but as the ‘Gateway to Africa’ it is a regional pole” (Khan, 2011, p. 38).
Factors of dynamic capacities realization through the formation of development institutes can be divided into three types:
- Political (creating a favourable environment for the development of political regime, the choice of direction and strategy of development, etc.);
- Administrative (maintenance and development of cooperation and communication abilities of civil servants, correction of the principles of management under the requests of citizens, creation of an open system of governance and feedback from consumers of public services, etc.);
- Cognitive (use of innovation and intangible resources in socio-economic and politico-administrative areas, increasing the role of human capital in the production of public goods and public property, etc.).
The following examples of development institutes in South Africa may illustrate how named factors of dynamic capacities realization influence the process of formation of development policy:
1. Development institutes in the field of public policy. After political crisis and realisation of ineffectiveness of racial segregation for building competitive advantages of the state, “in 1994 the Government of National Unity (GNU) comprising the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the consolidation of the labour movement into the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) attempted to redress the historical imbalances of the past through the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)” (Khan, 2015, p. 189).
The RDP was called to solve such problems of South Africa as violence; lack of housing, of jobs; inadequate education and health care; deformation of democracy; a failing economy. One of the important target of RDP was to modernize the public sector, “which includes such things as government departments, the post office, the railways, schools and public hospitals”. The creators of this programme wrote: “RDP proposes that people from groups that were previously excluded from the public sector should be employed to ensure that all our people are fairly represented. There should be training and support for these people”. (A Basic Guide to the Reconstruction and Development Programme, 2016). As a result, RDP became an effective instrument to start reforms of public sector, local governance, administration of justice, etc.
Nevertheless, the RDP as a development institute was a stopgap measure based on the neo-liberal macro-economic policy as part of its development agenda. But “this macro-economic policy was perceived as a panacea to eradicate the development ills of the past only to find a small section of the Black population benefitting from it. As an emerging economy it has deviated from its developmental agenda and embraced policies that continue to benefit international capital by creating opportunities for trade in anticipation of a trickle-down effect that will benefit those that are excluded from the national economy. Hence, large segments of the population are excluded from participating actively in the economy and have become dependent on state grants and welfare services” (Khan, 2015, p. 202).
2. Development institutes in the politico-administrative sphere. Closely linked to the changes in economics and politico-administrative sphere after 1994 public policy also needed a new way of modernization. Public Service Commission (PSC), which was created in 1996 was called to help with some of these challenges through modification of the recruitment system by making it more transparent and flexible (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 416). PSC is structured around six key performance areas:
- labour relations improvement (to conduct investigative research and provides advice on complaints, grievances, labour relations practices and policies);
- leadership and human resource reviews (to promote a high standard of public service leadership and encourage best practices in human resource policies);
- governance monitoring (to promote good governance and improve governance practices in the public service);
- service delivery and compliance evaluations (to promote improved service delivery through public participation and monitoring of quality audits);
- public administration investigations (to undertake audits and investigations into public administration practices);
- professional ethics (to promote a high standard of ethical conduct among public servants and contribute to preventing and combating corruption) (Public service commission of South Africa).
The main principles of the new public service model were described in the White Paper on Human Resource Management in the Public Service, which was published in the Government Gazette No. 18594 in 1997. These principles are:
“- The South African public service becomes representative of all the people of South Africa;
- The public service treats public servants as a valuable resource;
- The public service focuses on service delivery outcomes;
- The public service assigns managerial responsibility for results, and for the resources consumed in producing them, to the lowest practicable level;
- The public service holds public servants accountable for their actions; and
- The public service conducts its business professionally, transparently and ethically” (Hilliard, 2002, p. 180).
To make the public service sector more flexible and sensitive to the needs of modern society, the Department of Public Service and Administration of South Africa setup the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI): “The CPSI runs targeted innovation programmes to support the outcomes of rural development, accelerated service delivery at local government level, as well as human settlement” (Public Administration, 2016). South Africa has a number of agencies mandated to fight corruption. These are the South African Police Service, the Special Investigations Unit, the Assets Forfeiture Unit (based in the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions), and the Public Service Commission. The Public Protector and the Auditor-General also investigate corruption, although this does not form part of their core mandate. Some have argued that the multiplicity of anti-corruption agencies undermines the fight against corruption as it divides resources and has resulted in an uncoordinated approach (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 447).
3. Development institutes in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT) and innovations. As a middle-income country, South Africa needs to use its knowledge and innovative products to compete (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 33).
South Africa is known for its efforts and achievements in the sphere of innovations and ICT. This state climbed seven places in one year to reach 49th in 2015, “reversing its four-year downward trend thanks largely to increased uptake of ICTs – especially higher Internet bandwidth – and improvements in innovation (up by five places to 38th), which establish the economy as the region’s most innovative” (The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, 2015, p. 30) (see table 3, graph 3). The achievements of South Africa in this sphere is impressive: “Today, about 17 percent of South Africa’s population is able to access the internet – a number that is rising by about 20 percent a year” (National Development Plan 2030, 2012, p. 34). No doubt, without development institutes it couldn’t reach such results in this sphere.
Table 3. Rank of the BRICS countries by the ICT Development Index 2015 and the Global Competitiveness Index
|Country||IDI 2015 Rank||IDI 2010 Rank||Innovation Rank, GCI 2015-2016|
Source: ICT Development Index (2015), The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016, 2015, p. 14
South African state authority is open for discussions and cooperation with civil society and business for creation of innovations and ICT. For this aim, for instance, the Department of telecommunications and postal services of South Africa organized the International summit ICT South Africa 2016. On the website of this event is written: “ICT South Africa 2016 will be the most important gathering of public sector officials and private sector industry leaders in 2016. The summit will leverage the government’s official policy, “Operation Phakisa”, to unlock South Africa’s economic potential and ensure that huge cross-sector ICT investment delivers faster and more effective results. The key to the success of ICT South Africa 2016 is the predominantly meetings-based format of the summit. Private sector partners will have the opportunity to participate through booking pre-scheduled meetings of their choosing with federal and provincial government officials and key civil society stakeholders” (ICT South Africa 2016).
Another annual event – South Africa Innovation Summit – became the platform for communication between the state governors, representatives of academic sphere and business for creation, development and implementation of new technologies in South African economics and public management: “Annually, the Summit offers numerous opportunities for entrepreneurs, innovators, thought-leaders, policymakers, inventors and investors to drive innovation in South Africa and inspire sustained economic growth. Each year offers various lead-up events during with the main event in the last quarter September – a highlight of the South African innovation calendar” (South Africa Innovation Summit, 2016). Since its inception in 2008 in the name of inspiration of economic growth, the Summit has helped more than 500 entrepreneurs and innovators bring their products to market over the years, and facilitated deal making between numerous corporates and inventors (see image 1).
Image 1. Participants of South Africa Innovation Summit from 2008 to 2016
Source: South Africa Innovation Summit website http://innovationsummit.co.za/about/
It is evident that South Africa as a middle-income country pays a great attention to the process of creation of the development institutes in the sphere of public policy, political administration and economics to be competitive in the instable world full of crises. New technologies are an effective tool to achieve these goals. Moreover, South Africa modernize its politico-administrative regime and addresses significant investment needs and capacity gaps to reach sustainable human development for all. For this goal, the OECD experts underline that “adequate domestic and external public and private resource flows through global partnerships must remain high on the agenda, so as to help ensure financing, technology transfer and capacity development” (Human Development in Africa, 2015, p.94). These efforts help South Africa to be a noticeable player in BRICS – and through this organisation – in the world.Appendix
Graph 1. The main characteristics of the BRICS countries
Graph 3. Rank of the BRICS countries by the ICT Development Index 2015 and the Global Competitiveness Index
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