The focus of this paper is on the national performance tools in South Africa. The arrangements that have been put in place for managing public sector performance since 1994 – across the public service as a whole and specifically within the education sector – are enormously impressive. But in general these efforts did not translate into strong performance.
This paper explores the hypothesis that the answer to this puzzle can be found in the disconnect between, on the one hand, the technocratic orientation of the performance management systems which were introduced and, on the other, a political environment characterised by strong contestation over policy amongst competing stakeholders in the education sector.
It is proposed that policies for managing performance in basic education could best be explained as the outcome of a strategic interaction among three sets of actors – technocratically-oriented public officials in the bureaucracy, teacher labour unions (especially SADTU, as the dominant union), and the ANC in its dual role as the top level of the public sector hierarchy and as the primus inter pares within the ‘ruling alliance’. In practice, the political strength of organised labour resulted in national policies which, beneath their surface, fell well short of the aspiration of robust performance management
This working paper received financial support from the Department for International Development’s Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre
Cameron, R. ; Naidoo, V. ; When a ‘ruling alliance’ and public sector governance meet: Managing for performance in South African basic education. ESID Working Paper No. 60. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester(2014)