Determinants of public policy implementation in a decentralised state : the case of the language policy in Kwazulu-Natal.
Mpungose, Bongumenzi Emmanuel.
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This research project is based on the challenges that arise when a policy formulated by one level of government has to be implemented by a different (lower) level of government. This research project explored policy implementation in a decentralised state and did so through the lens of the National Language Policy (NLP) and its implementation in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal as its case study. The South African government adopted the NLP in 2003 which, inter alia, recognised eleven official languages of the country. The NLP gave implementation responsibilities to government at national, provincial and local level and identified various structures and mechanisms that were crucial for the effective implementation of the Policy. Despite the existence of the policy framework it is clear that it is fraught with implementation problems and that some languages have not been given the prominence as envisaged by both the Constitution and the NLP. What then is the problem? To answer this question, the study drew on the 5-C protocol on policy implementation. Provincial government departments; district municipalities; universities and select representatives of stakeholder organisations which are recipients of language services in the Province were identified as the study‟s population. Appropriate sampling techniques to select respondents from the identified population were used. Data was collected through mailed questionnaires and interviews augmented by documentary analysis. The qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis based on the conceptual framework developed for the study. Findings of the study suggest, inter-alia, that factors relating to content, context, commitment, communication and client and coalitions were fundamental to successful policy implementation within a decentralised state. Commitment to policy implementation (or the lack thereof), as this research established, does not only refer to the implementers in public service for a lot is dependent on political will to provide that much needed drive. It also depends on stakeholders and coalitions that have an interest in a given policy. The study further noted that, for a re-distributive policy as the NLP is, it is important to have the commitment of the citizenry who are the true beneficiaries of such policies. The study noted the centrality of policy content conceptualisation by officials in the implementing level of government. The ability to comprehend the role of the policy and its relevance to work circumstances, coupled with an intrinsic level of flexibility together with the leeway to adapt the policy to local content, appeared to have a great impact on policy implementation in a decentralised state - as evidenced by vertical and horizontal adaptability. The study drew conclusions from data received. One of the major conclusions was that there was lack of coordination of structures that could be used effectively to promote the use of official languages in an equitable manner. The study also concluded that, although the KwaZulu-Natal government had adopted its own language policy, it had failed to legislatively regulate the use of official languages because of the soft nature of the policies which made them not enforceable. Finally the study made recommendations on how the areas of weakness in the implementation of the policy could be addressed. It also commented on how the areas of success can be maintained and used as bench-mark for effective policy implementation in a decentralised state. Some of the major recommendations made by the study were that the policy content should be clear, unambiguous for vertical and horizontal adaptation, that there should be effective institutionalization of policy implementation, improving the capacity and budget for proper implementation, and that there should be proper monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the language policy.