In 1994, nine provincial heads, or premiers, came to power as a result of South Africa’s first democratic elections. Many had spent decades mobilizing opposition to the state but had never held political office. All faced the challenge of setting up provincial administrations under a new constitution that reduced the number of provinces and cut the number of departments in each administration, eliminating significant numbers of staff. Anticipating those challenges, the political parties that negotiated South Africa’s democratic transition had laid the groundwork for a commission that would help the newly elected provincial leaders set up their administrations. The panel, called the Commission on Provincial Government, operated under a two-year mandate and played an important role in advising the premiers and mediating between the provincial governments and other influential groups. By providing a trusted channel of critical information, the commission helped the new provincial leaders find their feet after their election, reducing tensions and keeping the post-electoral peace.
Tumi Makgetla and Rachel Jackson drafted this case study based on interviews conducted by Makgetla in Pretoria and Johannesburg, South Africa, in January and February 2010. A separate case study, “Negotiating Divisions in a Divided Land: Creating Provinces for a New South Africa, 1993,” focuses on provincial boundary delimitation. Case orginally published in April 2011. Case revised and republished in August 2013.
Associated Interview(s): Douglas Irvine
Commission on Provincial Government
Balancing the Central and Local
Country of Reform