South African Association of Public Administration and Management



In 2024, the democratic governance system of South Africa turns 30. This is a significant milestone in the evolution of our democracy. This becomes a momentous opportunity for our nation to reflect on the state of our young democracy. Maserumule and Phago (2014) assert that this moment “compels us to historicise the post-1994 South African State, especially from the governance perspective”. This is important because, as an American memoirist and poet Maya Angelo has pointed out “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”. This profound observation is instructive and important as it is intended to remind us to learn from history, for history is the best teacher. In this context, history should be understood not only as a remembrance of the past especially important dates in our evolution, it is important as it provides us with the finer and minute details of what happened so that we can make sense of what is happening. In the words of Ian Macqueen in his book Black Consciousness and progressive movement under apartheid “We are reminded again that the past and the present [as well as the future] are deeply contested”. It is time to make an honest assessment of the progress that has been made thus far, that is, how far have we come, where we are now, and where we want to be in the future. The formulation of the question in this manner is deliberate. It is intended to invite a multiplicity of reflective and analytical voices on this very important historic milestone. In particular, academics, practitioners, and policymakers as well as general members of society are called upon to deliberate about what makes them proud or concerned about South Africa’s democratic project. A rigorous discussion of the impact of policy decisions taken in the making of a “post-apartheid” South African state is crucial for understanding the status quo in terms of socio-economic transformation. What lessons can be discerned from such decisions? In this regard, the achievements and progress made thus far in terms of advancing society need to be clearly articulated. This is an easy defense against any system of misinformation. With a clear track record of progress, history should be able to demystify the truth. However, equally important is our honest reflection about the state of the nation at this current juncture. This is a very important task because we cannot always bask in the glory of our own achievements. We must use our collective wisdom to sharply confront and unravel the critical issues we are confronted with as South Africa’s democracy turns 30. In so doing, it is crucial that we reflect honestly on our past, and critically make sense of where we are in terms of the status quo so that we may be in the perfect position to comprehensively imagine the future. This is an important task for academics and practitioners – including policymakers – to undertake. The analysis of our past and the honest critical account of the state of the nation is a vital part of the process of comprehensively imagining the future. We are all obligated to participate in this discussion.

It is within this context that the South African Association of Public Administration and Management (SAAPAM), together with its stakeholders in public affairs such as, Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), National School of Government (NSG), Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), the Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA) are inviting you to the 23rd annual conference of the Association as an important platform to discourse on these issues.


The conference is themed in this manner because, as we have already stated, at 30, we are given a rare moment to reflect. Such a reflection must compel us to delve deep and lay bare the profundity of our understanding of the philosophical and ideological underpinnings that influenced inputs into the discussions that shaped the making of the “post-apartheid” South Africa. Such a discussion should help us appreciate the importance of “post-apartheid” South Africa as both an idea and a lived reality. This is the basis upon which a more grounded and comprehensive imagination of the future can be made. The idea of a democratic society is for everyone to protect. In addition to the fundamental rights protected under the post-1994 dispensation, the discussion about the socio-economic rights of South Africans needs to be equally elevated and given proper attention. This is necessarily because if fundamental rights are crucial for the formulation of a democratic system, socio-economic rights are vital for its sustenance. There will be no value for our democracy if we have no plan convincing enough to obliterate the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. What are the benefits of a democracy when its people are suffering and subjected to socio-economic bondage and injustice? This question is asked because these challenges are emblematic of the unfinished business of South Africa’s democratisation. Put differently, is the persistence of these triple challenges a sign of the fragility of our democracy? As a corollary to this, how should the quality of our democracy be measured?

After a careful analysis of the past and the present, the key task is to think about the future. In so doing, we ought to adopt a long-range perspective in our planning models. To think beyond our noses, with regards to what exactly is happening. At this juncture, there is a clear consensus that the key features of this democratic society are reflected in the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality. This much finds expression in the NDP, the country’s blueprint for planning. One of the critical aims of the NDP is “to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030″. The phrasing of this aim is interesting. One wonders what was going through the minds of the collective that crafted the plan. These planners thought poverty could be eliminated but that inequality could only be reduced, yet the high rate of poverty can be attributed to the unequal nature of South African society. The use of the terms “eliminate” and “reduce” calls for further interrogation. This may well be a debate for another day. However, it is worth mentioning that the triple challenges that have been highlighted as the major reflection of the nature of society need to be firmly confronted. This requires a robust discussion of the practical, ideological, and philosophical causes of these challenges lest we become pedestrian in our thinking. The debate needs to be continuous and to permeate other sectors of society as well.

The task of imagining the future of the administration of post-apartheid South Africa ought to be firmly embraced by the current generation of academics and practitioners including policymakers. They need to internalise the reality that posterity will judge them harshly should they fail to provide a comprehensive account of the state of the nation and make efforts to plot the future. Otherwise, we will be denying the future generation the appropriate tools for understanding the contradictions of their time.

Sub-themes of the conference

The main theme of the conference is: “POST-APARTHEID” SOUTH AFRICA AT 30: MAKING SENSE OF THE PAST, UNDERSTANDING THE PRESENT AND CHARTING THE FUTURE OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE STATE. To provide a more structured approach towards reflections on this critically important theme, the sub-themes are formulated based on the questions that ought to top the agenda of our discussions. This is done for the purpose of ordering our discussions to gain a rich perspective on the questions formulated as sub-themes:


  1. The past: How far have we come?

1.1 Contradictions in the making of a post-apartheid South Africa

1.2 Neoliberalism and New Public Management

1.3 Architecture of the post-1994 South African State

1.4 Role of business in the democratisation of South Africa

1.5 Unfinished business of democratisation


  1. The present: Where are we now?

2.1 State of the discipline

2.2 Socio-economic transformation

2.3 Validating and consolidating democratic gains

2.4 Developmental state

2.5 Intersectoral relations

2.6 Social justice in a democratic South Africa

2.7 New Municipalism

2.8 State of the implementation of the NDP


  1. The future: Where do we want to be

3.1 Post-New Public Management

3.2 Towards a professionalised public service

3.3 Building State Capacity

3.4 Rethinking the Public Affairs Curriculum

3.5 Implications of state-capture

3.6 Future of coalition governments


  1. Others:

4.1 Service Delivery

4.2 Human Capital and Performance Management

4.3 Sustainable development

4.4 Politics of Just Transition

4.5 International Relations

Authors are requested to strictly abide by the conference theme since this will be one of the primary criteria when selecting abstracts or manuscripts to be presented at the conference.


Macqueen, I.  2018. Black Consciousness and progressive movement under apartheid. Durban. UKZN Press.

Maserumule, MH and Phago, KG. 2014. The path traversed -20 years of democracy in South Africa – editorial. Journal of Public Administration,

The National Board of the SAAPAM, in collaboration with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), National School of Government (NSG), Department of Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), the Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Public Service Education and Training Authority (PSETA), invite you to the 23rd Annual Conference to be held in Sun City, Rustenburg, North West Province. Two types of contributions will be considered during this conference:

Firstly, Panel discussions

The panel discussions will allow a group of researchers, academics and thought leaders in Public Administration and Governance, as well as broader Social Science disciplines to make submissions on their ideas related to the conference theme. In essence, presenters will have a dedicated session to present and interrogate their ideas and/or research findings with some of the top scholars in South Africa.

Secondly, individual submissions

These are normal individual submissions which are required to focus on any of the conference sub-themes. In this case, research papers, opinion pieces or ideas will be considered.

Conference edition of the Journal of Public Administration for 2024

Completed papers which adhere to the editorial guidelines of the Journal of Public Administration will be subjected to the normal triple-blind peer-reviewing process. The final decision to include a paper in the conference edition rests with editors, once the peer-reviewing process is finalised. Only papers submitted by the due date will be considered for publication in the conference edition.


Completed papers which adhere to the editorial guidelines will also be considered for series of books that will be published by the Association.


The conference will commence with a postgraduate seminar for those delegates who are registered for their Master’s and Doctoral degrees. An experienced facilitator will present some of the key considerations for masters and doctoral students in Public Administration.