"Attacking the bureaucratic Elephant" - the State of selected public administration, political and policy reforms in new democracies: From decentralisation and partnership to the responsive citizen in the governance of the state

05 May 2016

This article argues that there are several assumptions that guide and shape the issues of decentralisation and partnership in creating a responsible and citizen-focused public service in South Africa, in developed countries and in other developing countries. The first assumption is that decentralisation as a normative ideal ought to be pursued everywhere. The second assumption is that public administrators simply need to make decentralisation work for the citizenry and not question it at all. The third assumption is that decentralisation can work because centralisation has not. The fourth assumption is that if decentralisation is not working in the interests of the citizenry the fault lies elsewhere than with decentralisation itself – the corollary of this is to be found in the assumption where two public administrators simply need to find ways of making it work in the interests of the citizenry. And the fifth assumption is that centralisation equals bad and decentralisation equals good and the corollary of this is that states ought to pursue decentralisation both as an end and as a means to an end.