A policy analysis of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Executive Council Cluster System with particular reference to Governance and Administration Cluster as a case study.
Nxumalo, Sinamuva Vusumuzi Wiseman.
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The focus of this study is to determine whether the Governance and Administration Cluster could be considered as a policy network within the cluster system of the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal. The study looks at the provincial government clusters, in particular, the Cluster for Governance and Administration, as policy networks that facilitate policy coordination and implementation within the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal. The challenge of improving policy coordination and implementation continues to confront all spheres of government in South Africa. This is despite the introduction of the cluster system in 1999 which sought to resolve coordination and implementation problems at national and provincial levels. Government is still confronted with gaps in the implementation of public policy, poor implementation or lack of implementation due to uncoordinated implementation efforts by departments. The study acknowledges that policy coordination, integration and implementation in government is inherently complex. It is argued that governance and public administration increasingly take place in network-like settings where sustainable patterns of interaction between actors have formed in a specific area of public policy and that public problems are dealt with in highly interactive processes. The study points out that clusters play a dual role of being an interorganisational forum for integrated policy making as well as the role of being a tool for implementation of government policy. All respondents were unanimous in that the clusters have been the most effective tool of coordinating collaboration in policy making and implementation within the provincial government. However, the cluster system does not facilitate collaboration with private actors and civil society due to its closed nature and restrictive membership. The study of the cluster system within the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal has revealed that the clusters, in particular, the Governance and Administration Cluster lacks some of the key characteristics of a policy networks approach. Most provincial government clusters do not meet the basic features of a policy network such as autonomy of actors, equal participation of state and non-state actors in policy making, interdependence, sharing of resources, goals and strategies, voluntary participation, identifiable stakeholders, interrelationships and interactions. It can be argued that the Governance and Administration Cluster, as an overall and overarching coordinating instrument in the Office of the Premier, operates along the lines of the central-rule model which emphasises hierarchy and a single command authority for coordination of policy making and implementation. The Cluster for Governance and Administration in the Office of the Premier in the provincial government of KwaZulu-Natal can be considered as an intergovernmental structure that brings together government officials both political and technical from different levels of government for coordination of policy making and implementation.