Sticking to the Numbers: Performance Monitoring in South Africa, 2009-2011
Author: Jonathan Friedman
Size: 11 pages (1.12KB)
What can be learned from the South African government's introduction of a service delivery monitoring system? This study examines the efforts of the Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation established by Jacob Zuma in 2009. The study shows that the chief ministers succeeded in encouraging departments to set measurable performance targets, but as political support waned, the sustainability of the system was put in doubt. Nevertheless, some officials believe that the system has changed the culture of planning, monitoring and evaluation of policies in South Africa to embrace data-based processes.
During the 15 years since the end of apartheid, South Africa had made strides in extending basic services to previously underserved communities, but frustration with the pace of progress boiled over in early 2009. President Jacob Zuma came to power in 2009 amid a wave of demonstrations by South Africans protesting at the government's poor record in delivering basic services. During his first month in office, Zuma established a Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation to improve service delivery by ministries.
Two key officials in the new ministry, Ketso Gordhan and Ronette Engela, identified three major reasons for the government's poor performance: (1) a lack of accountability at the upper levels of ministries, (2) decentralised and often ad hoc policy planning and (3) poor inter-ministerial coordination. They devised a system that reorganised ministries around 12 policy goals and set data-based performance targets for ministers and departments. Zuma signed performance agreements in April 2010 with his 34 ministers, who together framed 12 delivery agreements during the following months.
Performance and delivery agreements succeeded in their main purpose of specifying delivery targets against which ministers and departments could be assessed. The most important contribution of the outcomes approach was the use of data in formulating and assessing policies. In addition:
Although implementation of the outcomes approach was uneven across departments, it was thought that successful implementation in some ministries would provide leverage in persuading other ministers to increase their participation. Nevertheless, the outcomes approach had several shortcomings:
Friedman, J., 2011, 'Sticking to the Numbers: Performance Monitoring in South Africa, 2009-2011', Innovations for Successful Societies, Princeton University