An analysis of the theory and practice of governance in the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Authority.
Nzimakwe, Thokozani Ian.
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South Africa's negotiated settlement and its transition to a democratically elected government has often been referred to as a small miracle. Despite that, the country faces major governance challenges, ie. it has to embark on a comprehensive governance programme. The main aim of this study is to discuss and review the state of governance in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The concept of governance has a broader relevance than the narrow and traditional term of government. The latter refers conventionally to the actions of a narrow set of government institutions. On the other hand, however, governance encompasses a wider range of issues and actors and the interactions among them. The interest in and importance of governance has followed a longer interest in the concept of civil society. With the advent of democracy, the South African government, together with its nine provincial administrations, has committed itself to maintaining and working with civil society structures. The design and implementation of public sector projects increasingly reflect : a partnership approach between government at all levels, the private sector and civil society. One aspect of governance in South Africa, which this study has also paid some attention to, is what is called good governance. One hallmark of the new Constitution is that a decentralised political system has been created which allows opportunities for wider consultation and participation by civil society, public sector, and the private sector in promoting good governance. This research is motivated by theoretical and practical concerns. It has attempted to cast light on governance issues of KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Authority by identifying some important and common dynamics of governance processes within this province. Further it has attempted to show how general principles of good governance can guide legislators, public officials, the private sector and civil society as they continue to grapple with governance challenges. The study has revealed that essentially there are four suggested properties of governance: Firstly, it is the degree of trust that exists between classes, clans and political elites about the nature, purpose and the rules of sociopolitical interactions and practices. Without trust, individuals and organised interest groups will see no reason to actively engage in public life. The second element is the extent to which there are effective relations of reciprocity in the public realm. Reciprocity exists if associations and parties are allowed to form, to defend and promote stakeholder interests within the public realm via political competition, pressure, negotiations and conflict resolution. The third element is the degree of accountability, i.e. whether the governors can be held accountable by the governed via institutionalised procedures and processes. This cannot be sustained over time without the eventual implementation of structures of accountability and trust across society. Fourthly, the nature of authority, i.e. how political leaders make policies and implement them in a way that resolves the problems of ordinary citizens and promotes the legitimacy of the public realm - what many in South Africa refer to as the capacity to govern. The conclusion drawn from this study is that if a government wants to promote and practise good governance, it must try to involve all stakeholders, namely civil society, public officials and the business sector, when making decisions concerning the delivery of services. This requires consultation with these stakeholders or their representatives. Leaders in politics, government institutions, private sector and civil society should announce good governance as the only option. Given that governance involves a number of new challenges for everyone, the researcher examined how each segment can contribute to the practice of good governance in the province. The study has identified the quest for good governance as the most formidable challenge, not only facing the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Authority, but also the country as a whole. All concerned are urged to find ways and means of reversing the trend towards declining governability and institutional decay. In the final analysis the following recommendations were made: • Good governance must result in better delivery of services; • Good governance programmes must change society for the better; • To promote good governance, the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Authority must consistently implement growth-oriented and market-friendly economic policies; • Legislators must ensure that there are mechanisms for enforcing accountability and transparency; and • Government must encourage citizen participation, and governance must be undertaken to improve the general welfare of a society.