Deputy Minister for Public Service and Administration, Dr Chana Pilane Majake with the Sudanese delegation

The South African Ministry of Public Service and Administration on Monday, 17 October 2022, hosted a South Sudan delegation on a study tour to sample South Africa’s democratic government system.

The study partly hosted by Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake (MP) in South Africa, is designed to enable South Sudan to make an informed decision on an applicable government option for its nation’s context as part of its process to develop its own people-centred constitution.

The study further looks to establish, through benchmarking, the successes and challenges of developed systems in countries that have practised either federalism, decentralization or devolution systems of government.

This is in line with the anchor of the study, which is on understanding the complex political setup and best practices of a federal state system, the administrative setup and the fiscal regime arrangements.

Dr Pilane-Majake outlined the journey of South Africa from dismantling the apartheid regime that left the country with deeply entrenched structural and systemic divides to a democratic dispensation in 1994.

“These systemic divides continue to perpetuate a skewed economy that mostly benefits a few while the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality persist. On the other hand, women, youth, children and people with disabilities continue to be categories that are less served, and thus quotas were introduced by the South African government,” Deputy Minister said.

She further pointed out that divisions of the past in South Africa were based mostly on race and gender, and to a lesser extent on ethnicity – as is the case in South Sudan.

Dr Pilane-Majake explained: “In terms of government, we are a unitary state, with some federalism in the nine provinces of South Africa, however, less emphasis is placed on federalism to avoid perpetuating divisions of the past. Section 195. (1) of our Constitution states that Public Administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution. These include that; a high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained while efficient, economic and effective use of resources is promoted.”

She further informed the South Sudan delegation, which is still set to visit other parts of the country and government institutions: “During your tour, our officials and experts will take you through our journey towards building a people-centred, effective and efficient public service. This is governed through enabling regulations that emanate from our legal framework that is regularly monitored and evaluated to remain purpose-fit in the context of our country and its ongoing socio-economic developmental needs.”

South Sudan Federal Affairs Minister Losuba Ludoru Wongo Upele, who is leading the study tour delegation, indicated that his country picked South Africa as a case study due to the country’s strong democratic principles and how it had maintained them.

“It is important for us to learn from South Africa’s experience in the critical process of developing our people-centred constitution. We are here to learn how to structure a model for our constitution that can be accepted by the people of South Sudan,” he said.

The study tour stems from a 2018 Revitalization Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan which dictates that a fully-fledged federal system of governance be established based on the character of the people of South Sudan.

Following extensive consultation between the South Sudan Minister of Federal Affairs and the leadership of the United Nations Development Plan in October 2021, it was agreed that the Ministry undertake the study of the countries that included South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

A strategy was developed and it included pointers that South Africa could help understand how the provinces and central governments system works, Kenya to assist with the thinking and practice of devolution, as well as Nigeria on federalism and the opportunities and challenges it presents in Africa’s largest population with an ethnic and religious context.

Ms Phindile Chauke is the Stakeholder Relations Manager in the Office of the Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration