About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Introduction

Three years after the world witnessed the dramatic and history-making change from the apartheid regime to the new democratic order in April 1994, South Africa is still very much a society in transition. The country is currently experiencing a dramatic paradigm shift from the apartheid system to a more open and democratic political culture. The impact of this value change on the civil service1 system is still open-ended and no definitive assessment of its scope, contents and consequences is yet possible. In these circumstances of continuous flux the timing and feasibility of this attempt to do a country study could be questioned. But it could also be argued that the transformation presents a unique opportunity to identify some of the properties and characteristics of the civil service system which might not have been discernible had the system been more stable. It should also be kept in mind that the analysis of the impact of the new democratic regime on the post-apartheid civil service system is largely based on observations of emerging tendencies and, therefore unavoidably, somewhat speculative. In this paper an attempt is made to incorporate, where possible, the latest information, in some cases up to and including February 1997. It should, however, be pointed out that as far as the personnel statistics are concerned, the information is correct up to the end of 1995.

The research protocol is followed as far as possible: firstly, the civil service system is described in terms of its historical development; secondly, the focus is directed at the civil service system as an internal labour market reflecting the rules and practices associated with classification, deployment, job security and wage structures; thirdly, the meaning and implications of the concept of representativeness, given the particular South African demographic and ideological context, is analysed; fourthly, the politicisation of the civil service is considered against the backdrop of the dramatic paradigm shift and changing values which are currently being experienced; fifthly, the views held by elites and the mass public about the civil service, and the effect of democratisation on changing perceptions in this regard, are focused upon; and, finally, administrative reforms with special emphasis on change and transformation of the post-apartheid civil service system will be explored. An attempt is also made to analyse and categorise the South African civil service system in terms of both Heady's and Morgan's configurations.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.