An agenda setting analysis : the application of Kingdon's framework to the Road Accident Fund (RAF).
Ndlovu, Lindokuhle Angel.
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This study aimed at exploring the agenda setting process of the Road Accident Fund (RAF), a road accident compensation system operating in South Africa using Kingdon's model of Agenda Setting. This study focused on the period between 1996 when the RAF was introduced to 2005 when the focus in the Fund was put mainly on how to deal with fraud and corruption issues. When the RAF was put into place, the main aim was to establish a compensation system that will be able to deal with the effects of road accidents that the people suffer. These are mostly the vulnerable road users and public transport passengers who account for most of the road casualties. However there has been a shift in the focus of the Road Accident Fund Act of 1996, hence the majority of the people who were meant to be beneficiaries ended up not benefiting from the Fund due to corruption. A theoretical framework based on the work of John Kingdon (1995) is used to explore the developments in the RAF that led to the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) as a proposed system. Qualitative research method was used in order to trace the unfolding of the events and action of participants in the RAF in order to see whether the developments in the Fund can be explained using Kingdon's framework of agenda setting. Historical documents were used to collect data and to trace the chronology of events. These include formal records, including Annual Reports on the RAF and media articles, including newspapers. Content analysis method was done on material such as: Annual Reports on the Road Accident Fund, Meeting Minutes, Parliamentary Proceedings, Newspaper Articles and Speeches, primarily from the Department of Transport in order to analyse data. The findings of this study revealed that using Kingdon's theory of agenda setting, it is possible to come to a better understanding of the agenda setting process that led to a current state of the RAF. In the RAF case study, the three policy streams proposed by Kingdon namely: problem stream, policy stream and political stream, were identified. In the problem stream, the financial 'crisis' together with feedback from the formal as well as the media reports that indicated that the financial condition of the RAF was getting worse served as an indication that there was a problem in the Fund. Several ideas were generated in the policy stream of the Fund. Amongst other things, studies, discussions, hearings, meetings and conferences conducted by the RAF Commission for the purpose of investigating the Fund and come up with alternative solutions, created pressure for policy change. While RABS which incorporated in it a "no fault" system of compensation was proposed as a solution by the RAF Commission, liquidation of the Fund was also a concern. In the political stream, the national mood, change of administration and interest group pressure were evident and contributed to the agenda setting of the RAF. Media reports also contributed to the whole agenda setting process of the Fund. The implications of the analysis for future processes are drawn.