Balancing the Central and Local, Constitutions
Tumi Makgetla and Rachel Jackson
boundary delimitation, Commission on Provincial Government, South Africa, decentralization
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.