The limits and possibilities of monitoring and evaluation: a case study of the KwaZulu Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZN CoGTA).
Nxumalo, Siyabonga I.
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As South Africa seeks to consolidate and deepen the country‟s democracy post-1994, subsequently it has had to focus on good governance to achieve efficiency and effectiveness in the conduct and operations of government. The country‟s development efforts towards improving accountability, transparency, efficiency as well as effectiveness of government in service delivery seeks to create and maintain high levels of performance in government departments. As a result monitoring and evaluation (M&E) has developed into a significant practice in guiding the transformation of the South African Public Service. M&E is the systematic assessment of the policy processes as well as the measurement of a policy‟s impact. It can be used to assess whether a policy or program achieves its objectives. M&E practice in South Africa is anchored towards developing an efficient Public Service that delivers on the objectives and mandate of the South African Government as enshrined in the country‟s post-1994 Constitution. In 2005, Cabinet approved a plan for the development of a Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System (M&E), which was envisaged as a system in which each department would have a functional M&E system. In 2009 a Ministry of Performance M&E was created in the Presidency, and a Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in January 2010 was established. Subsequently, monitoring and evaluation has become a subject of interest in public policy implementation. This study seeks to understand the limits and possibilities of monitoring and evaluation using the KwaZulu Natal Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (KZN CoGTA) as a case study. It aims to ascertain how M&E as defined in the National Monitoring and Evaluation Framework and the literature is implemented, conceptualised and used. KZN CoGTA is a South African provincial government Department whose legislative mandate according to the South African Constitution is to provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent intergovernmental system for the Provincial government departments. Evidently, as a relatively new strategic and operational practice in the South African government, M&E exposes some of its own limits and possibilities. Ultimately, not all resources invested into M&E actually get implemented to strengthen transparency, accountability and improvement. The study adopted an interpretative approach whilst using a qualitative methodology to identify and capture meaning that informs the understanding and implementation of monitoring and evaluation, (M&E). Non-probability; purposive sampling was used to select elements for a specific purpose of their unique position and capabilities to provide information on practical and expert knowledge in M&E. Therefore, the data collection method includes interviews with relevant personnel in the M&E practice, as well as the documents about the implementation of monitoring and evaluation in KZN CoGTA, South Africa. The implementation of M&E which is the focus of the study was analysed within the theoretical framework of public policy implementation which involves monitoring and evaluation. The challenges encountered when implementing M&E within the various approaches such as the Results-Based Management are also analysed in order to understand the limits and possibilities of monitoring and evaluation. The results pointed to the importance of an improved and standardised M&E practice with enhanced and standardised coordination between different spheres of government in national, provincial and local government institutions, as responsible for monitoring the process of design, implementation and continuous monitoring and evaluation of the public service, aiming to improve the quality of its services.