South Africa: Ramaphosa's New Dawn Is Here - but What It Will Take to Bring the Civil Service Back to Life?

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces his new cabinet on May 29, 2019.

A new president, a new Cabinet, but the same old civil service. The compliance culture that has evolved since 1994 has all but killed the developmental state. Deeply fearful of making mistakes in an environment where it is impossible not to make mistakes, officials minimise risk and maximise compliance. If they can just tick the boxes, they will be safe. Result: Zero experimentation and innovation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa became quite nostalgic as the 8 May 2019 election came to a close.

It reminded him, he said, of 1994 -- a time of new beginnings, new ways, new focus. In short, his New Dawn. But then, as now, what happens in practice depends to a large extent on the role of the state, and in particular how thousands of officials across all departments and spheres of government think, behave and relate to one another.

Ramaphosa's team is aware of this and discussions have already begun. And unlike during the Zuma era, these discussions seem to be asking the right questions.

Read as a package, the Constitution defines the South African state as a "developmental state". What this means is that the state has the primary responsibility for envisioning and implementing strategies...

More From: Daily Maverick

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.