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June 2017

Contested Terrain: Reforming Procurement Systems in South Africa

When he took office as South Africa's finance minister in 2009, Pravin Gordhan found that government officials responsible for purchasing goods and services wasted billions of dollars every year as a result of inefficiency, errors, and graft. To address this problem, he decided to centralize many procurement functions and he tapped longtime finance ministry official Kenneth Brown to serve as the country's first chief procurement officer. With the support of a skilled team, Brown tightened procedures and regulations, built effective oversight, reviewed and renegotiated costly contracts, developed new money-saving strategies, and launched efforts to create an online purchasing system. Despite opposition from people at some of the highest levels of government, Brown sharply reduced opportunities for corruption, increased transparency in the procurement process, and slashed the time required to process tenders. 

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Protests outside the treasury on March 31, 2017 following the dismissal of Pravin Gordhan from his position as finance minister. Photo by Tristan Dreisbach.

Putting Justice into Practice: Communal Land Tenure in Ebenhaeser, South Africa

Following the 1994 transition from racial apartheid to democracy, the new South African government sought to recognize the land rights of the estimated 16 million black South Africans living in communal areas. The absence of a clear legal framework applicable to most communal areas hindered progress. In 2009, land reform Minister Gugile Nkwiti designated Ebenhaeser, a small community on the country's west coast, as a rural "flagship" project. Provincial officials helped organize a communal association to serve as landowner and negotiated an agreement with white farmers to return land that had originally belonged to mixed-race residents. The community developed a land administration plan that would pave the way for Ebenhaeser's residents to become legal owners of the communal territory, providing an alternative to the granting of the land to traditional leaders.


ISS Featured Interview

While serving as South Africa's public protector from 2009 to 2016, Thulisile Madonsela transformed the office of Public Protector into a powerful and effective anticorruption institution. She released reports detailing corruption and financial mismanagement at the highest levels of government. In this 2017 interview, Madonsela explains how she restructured the office and prepared its staff to take on an expanding corruption caseload while fending off resistance from opponents. 



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Innovations for Successful Societies (ISS) is a program of Princeton University's
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 

ISS Monthly Newsletter Archive

May 2017: Tunisia Open Government

April 2017: Liberia Ebola Response

March 2017: Land Administration

February 2017: Brazil Anti Corruption

January 2017: Property Rights & Land Administration

December 2016: Reconciling the Impossible: South Africa's Government of Unity

November 2016: The Ongoing Drive for Sustainable Cattle Ranching in Brazil

October 2016: Managing Tense Elections

September 2016: Indonesia's 2014 Presidential Transition

August 2016: Reforming Brazil's Military

July 2016: Graduates to Government: The President's Young Professionals Program In Liberia

June 2016: Delivering on Presidential Goals in the Dominican Republic

May 2016: Pockets of Effectiveness in Senegal and Indonesia

April 2016: Evaluation in Benin & Croatia Defense Reform

March 2016: Powersharing in Tunisia and Kenya

February 2016: Morocco Water, Tunisia Microfinance

January 2016: Mexico Veracruz and Ghana Presidential Transition

December 2015: Peru and Kenya Judiciaries

November 2015: Protecting Forests, Mitigating Climate Change

October 2015: Open Government Partnership

September 2015: Mexico's Presidential Transition

August 2015 Indonesia Military

July 2015: Kenya 2030 Strategy

June 2015: Calderon's Prexidency in Mexico, Anti Corruption in Luthuania

 May 2015: Bihar India Modernizing Systems to Improve Service Delivery

 April 2015: Two New Case Studies on the Philippines

 March 2015: Monitoring Kosovo's Courts 

 February 2015: Pakistan's Citizen Feedback Monitoring Program

 January 2015: ISS Announces a New Online Course

 January 2015: Reducing Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon 

December 2014: Lagos State and Vietnam: Promoting Reform at the Local Level 

November 2014: Political Transitions in Chile

October 2014: Tunisian Elections

 September 2014: Strategy Development in Serbia and Estonia

 August 2014: Strategy Development in Malayasia

 July 2014: Effective Reforms in Brazil

June 2014: Public Sector Innovation in Mexico

May 2014: Short-Route Accountability in Afghanistan

April 2014: Elections in India

March 2014: Transforming Citizen Services

February 2014: Short-Route Accountability in Indonesia & the Philippines

January 2014: Anti-Corruption Agencies

December 2013: South Africa's Transition to a Non-Racial Democracy

November 2013: Reform Leaders on Effective and Accountable Civil Service

October 2013: Improving Policy Management and Service Delivery

September 2013: Combatting Corruption and Mediating Election Conflict

 August 2013: Improving Service Delivery and Reducing Election Violence 

July 2013: Increasing Accountability and Efficiency in Civil Service

June 2013: Government Delivery Units

May 2013: Anti-Corruption Commissions

April 2013: Election Reforms in Zambia and other Countries

March 2013: Civil Service Reforms in Brazil

February 2013: Infrastructure Projects, Government Investments and Obstacles

 January 2013: Anti-Corruption Efforts in the Baltics and Nigerian Elections

December 2012: Reforming City Management in Palmero and Johannesburg

November 2012: ISS Marks 100 Case Studies

October 2012: Kenya Open Data and the Rapid Results Approach

September 2012: Cabinet Reform and Anti-Corruption Agencies

August 2012: City Management in Bangalore and Rapid Results in Madagascar

July 2012: Indonesian and Georgian Reforms

June 2012: Revenue Collection in Liberia

May 2012: Center of Government in the Batics

April 2012: Indonesian Accountability and Nigerian Electoral Reform

March 2012: Improving Government Accountability, Leading Reform

Spring 2012 Newsletter

Summer 2012 Newsletter