Speech notes: Ushering in a new approach to the delivery of government services.

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL

The following speech was delivered by Vicky Knoetze, MPL in support of a motion tabled by DA EC Leader in the Legislature, Bobby Stevenson, in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, on 23 July 2020.

GLOBAL GOVERNANCE – A NEW APPROACH TO SERVICE DELIVERY

The approach of delivering services to communities by government, namely that of co-operative governance is inadequate to provide the needs of all people.

Over the last two decades, due to many factors such as population growth, unemployment and poverty, the demands of people in terms of services that they require from government has increased exponentially.

Government alone is not capable of carrying the burden; we need an approach to governance that will encapsulate efforts by government, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organisations and individuals – the approach is that of global governance.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable members and guests, good afternoon.

The approach of delivering services to communities by government, namely that of co-operative governance is inadequate to provide the needs of all people.

Over the last 2 decades, due to many factors such as population growth, unemployment and poverty, the demands of people in terms of services that they require from the government has increased exponentially.

Government alone is not capable of carrying the burden, we need an approach to governance that will encapsulate efforts by government, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organisations and individuals – the approach is that of global governance, or as Hon Stevenson refers to it as “the whole society approach”.

In order to better understand the model that is proposed, an analysis of public affairs would be incomplete without considering the role of the state and the government in society.

The existence of the state hinges on facilitating the common good in society, being able to do so requires the government to structure itself in the most optimal way possible in order to utilise resources in the most efficient and effective way, ensure the fair and equitable distribution of services and accomplish certain strategic objectives. Further to this, the government is a collective entity in the pursuit of collective objectives.

In particular, the responsibility of the public sector within a democratic developmental landscape must be considered in light of continuous transformation as an active national incidence since the adoption of democracy in 1994. The existence of a continuous transformation agenda plays a vital role together with a high-performance public sector in enabling the achievement of South Africa’s social contract and developmental goals.

A developmental public sector enables aspects such as; economic growth; planning; management and directing transformation initiatives towards focussed economic attainment; the establishment of interactive networks between the state and the markets; enabling global economic awareness; the promotion of socio-economic growth; transformation of the economy and infrastructure and the pursuit of social equality through economic growth.
Reforms within the public sector have led to many changes in the role of government, more specifically in terms of the effort to enhance efficiency as well as the realignment of the public sector to privatise and form a working relationship with the private sector.

What can be considered as ‘good governance’? Governance as being good if government attains its goal for the creation of conditions in which good quality of life can be attained for each citizen.

Traditionally good governance which is based on the principles of co-operative governance and intergovernmental relations is an essential component to ensure strategic management and administration. Government can be considered ‘good’ if its institutional arrangements and functional structures are performing effectively to promote the common good in society.

We are all accustomed to this traditional method of governance, known as co-operative governance. The current South African government has expanded the word ‘government’ as it relates to cooperation and where the use of the concept ‘ co-operative governance’ is emphasised, another active dimension is added in terms of which social partnerships are forged with society to ensure delivery in terms of national priorities.

Co-operative government embodies the basic values of the government as stipulated in the Constitution of Republic of South Africa, 1996 and the implementation of these values through the establishment of institutions and structures.

Co-operative government can be characterised as a partnership among the three spheres of government which requires each sphere of government (local, provincial and national) to fulfil a specific role. Spheres of government cannot function effectively without cooperation with each other due to the interdependency and interrelatedness of some governmental functions, spill-overs in services, limited resources, poor economic conditions and accountability as well pressure from civil society and the public sector.

However, over the past three decades, various challenges have been identified in terms of this traditional model in achieving effective co-operative governance in South Africa.

Firstly, the system of intergovernmental relations in South Africa intrinsically requires the three spheres of government to build strong but flexible goal-orientated partnerships that promote collaboration without diminishing performance and accountability, this can however only be achieved if political office-bearers and public officials in the public sector undertake a paradigm shift in terms of their mindsets in order to embrace a spirit of cooperation.

National and provincial spheres of government in South Africa form institutional structures to facilitate sustainable development, whereas local government is perceived to be the delivery agency for developmental programmes and projects. In reality, however, the intergovernmental relations system is hampered by two key deficiencies:

The determination and execution of fundamental national development priorities that involves all three spheres of government is an unstable and incoherent process at all three spheres of government. A degree of uncertainty exists in terms of many government processes and structures with regards to their roles and interrelationships within the government system.

The management of service delivery programmes is plagued by jurisdictional issues between departments, organs of state or spheres of government when policy priorities cut across ministerial mandates and traditional policy fields. This result in poor integration of services at community level, duplication and an inability to establish collaborative partnerships where joint action is required.

There is poor integration of services at community level and an inability to establish effective collaborative partnerships. There still seem to be a shortfall in terms of extending the co-operative governance framework beyond government to include the private sector and civil society in a meaningful way.

Government is still struggling to prove the practical effect of policy documents and confronting fundamental issues in fulfilling its mandates as related to co-operative governance.

There is also an accountability and responsibility deficit between the various spheres of government and a need exist to clarify these where policy priorities cut across all three spheres of government or different spheres of government.

In response to the shortcomings of the traditional co-operative governance approach – ushering in a new model of governance may find an answer in what is knowns as – Global Governance.

Global governance is continuously being reshaped in arrangements of public and private actors that include states, regional organisations, international organisations, expert groups, professional associations, business organisations and civil society. Global governance which has resulted in the emergence of innovative layers of governance, operational strategies and new technologies of governance. Within this differentiated multitude of networks of both, informal and formal institutions, the increased involvement of non-state actors in rule and norm-making processes and compliance monitoring validates the appearance of global public governance.

A shift has occurred from direct forms of governance to a perceived process of governance exercised through a plurality of actors, processes, spatial scales and sites in terms of which governments are increasingly relying on informal forms of power influence and power instead of formal authority.

This shift has led to the requirement of a new form of coordination which emerges through networks; these networks have become more influential due to the increase of complexity of multi-level global governance.

Networks have become a characteristic mode through which the transnational is organised. A fundamental element of global governance is characterised by the shift to networks and partnerships as modes of coordination involved in influencing policy decisions and the business of government.

The escalating transnational character of policy issues has provided a foundation for research collaboration, the sharing of information and cooperating on activities which creates an arena for the international diffusion of policy transfer and ideas.

Problem-solving is not the domain of a central authority to enforce solutions upon subordinate agencies and individuals but rather the result of a multitude of actors that frequently have different values, interests and power resources. The policy arena have become increasingly congested and contested due to the increase of actors involved, the blurred boundaries between public and private realms and the transformation of the demand over policy processes which has led to globalisation becoming an increasingly essential context for the location of public policy analysis.

The abundance of non-governmental organisations, and their intensifying visibility in world-politics and policy, has been at the centre of a robust debate while traditional, nationally based channels of participation have been on the decline – the expanding role of civil society in the global arena is indicative of an ongoing mission of civil society to re-imagine, re-map and reconstruct world politics.

A new social structure and international institutional structure of production and power relations were brought about by a shift to globalisation of production and finance.

Diversity, dynamics and complexity as concepts are central features of governance in itself and that it is the role of government to enable interactions, encourage arrangements for managing policy and ensure that public services are distributed equitably through public-private partnerships, self-regulation and co-regulation as no single governing agency is capable of realising legitimate and effective governing on its own.

The concept of global governance concerns itself with the engagement of a multi-actor standpoint which encompasses a variety of mechanisms that link, both vertically and horizontally, the activities of a multitude of actors including politicians, public officials, international governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations, experts and interest groups.

Global governance denotes that actors can coordinate their interest through various multi-centred structures and processes that are both appropriate and flexible for the achievement of policy objectives and for the adequate response to policy issues on a global scale.