Governance of the party, state and society triad in a democratic South Africa

Access full-text article here


Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    This article asserts that the concept of governance is inherently complex, and its practice elusive, for both developing and developed countries alike. Whereas democratisation experiments enforced a shift from government to governance due to recognition of the multiplicity of actors, the move was simultaneously undergirded by configuration of power relations and authority that legitimised informalisation. The latter meant that formal constitutional and statutory institutional frameworks of governance would be overcompensated by complex informal networks that shaped the party-state-society interactionism in favour of distributive regimes and patronage. For former colonies that experienced extended periods of liberation struggles, democratisation and liberationist-democratic experimentation were exploited to legitimise infusion of informal governance for the governing party, state and society triad in favour of the elite and private commercial interests. A democratic South Africa involves a society that is dominated by self-entitlement psychology wherein actors have astronomically secured exponential regulatory, decisional and discursive powers over the state itself, with the result that the claims of state capture have come to dominate headlines over twenty years after democratisation. This article concludes that the current public contestations in a democratic South Africa about President Zuma, Constitutional Court Ruling on the Public Protector’s Nkandla findings, the recklessness of the resources-squandering State-owned Enterprises, the executive’s encroachment into and abuse of apparatus of state for political ends, ill-discipline in the governing party and so on, are symptomatic of a steeply informalised governance that operates through complex networks, largely beyond the reproach of formal constitutional and statutory institutional frameworks.