The impact of intergovernmental relations and co-operative government on good governance in South Africa

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    Since post Apartheid in 1994, the system of intergovernmental relations and co-operative government in South Africa had evolved, not only because of the constitutional/legal framework thereof but also because of the statutory commitment of the various spheres of government to the implementation of the principles of co-operative government and intergovernmental relations. The institutions of government in South Africa have, existed as a series of interlocking devices, pervasive throughout society, and all aimed at promoting the objectives of the national development and poverty alleviation policy. The attainment of development goals is heavily dependent on an effective system of intergovernmental relations and also upon the degree to which the machinery of government can operate in a state of inter-institutional harmony. Through the establishment of various institutional arrangements for intergovernmental relations – and the successful operation of these structures – it is expected that all three spheres of government will continually strive to co-operate with one another in mutual trust and good faith. Without the effective operation of intergovernmental relations in South Africa, projects and programmes aimed at furthering and promoting the principles of public administration cannot succeed. Whereas intergovernmental relations consist of the sum total of relationships among and within the spheres of government, be they hierarchical or based on equality, the principles of co-operative government lock these relations into a particular normative framework. The core of this framework is that the decentralization of state power in terms of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 is not based on “competitive federalism” but on the norms of cooperative government. In this article, the intergovernmental relations system in South Africa, its milestones and challenges over the past years of democracy will be reviewed. Reference will be made to the successes and failures of the current system of intergovernmental relations and possible solutions to remedy the mentioned failures will be suggested.