Empowering institutions and improving public service delivery for sustainable development

Programme description

Title: Governance Support Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: South Africa
Lead executing agency: Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2017

South Africa. The provision of basic services is often not guaranteed. An informal settlement without any basic services. © GIZ


South Africa has been on a path of democratic consolidation ever since the end of apartheid and the first democratic elections. However, this process brings with it considerable social and economic challenges. The country continues to face major difficulties in developing an efficient and effective administration. Therefore, the implementation of government policies and use of available funds to improve people’s living conditions is progressing only slowly. This results in inadequate provision of basic services to the population, which the government itself regards as one of the biggest obstacles to development in the country.


Working together with the private sector and civil society, public institutions have improved their service delivery.


The Governance Support Programme provides technical and procedural advice to the South African Government in remedying systemic weaknesses in three key areas.

  • Policy coherence and intergovernmental cooperation
  • Quality and efficiency of the core processes of human resources, finance and methods of service delivery
  • Accountability, administrative action under the rule of law and active citizenship.

The National Development Plan 2030 identifies these areas as pivotal to the improvement of service delivery. The programme focuses on creating viable structures and processes, and establishing technical and management skills among its various partner organisations. It also works to improve cooperation and coordination across the three levels of government and with actors in organised business and civil society.

The programme’s partners include a number of different ministries and government entities, selected provincial and municipal administrations, the private sector and civil society organisations, as well as actors in the field of legislation. This allows for a multi-faceted approach to enhancing public service delivery that addresses all the stakeholders involved.

The consulting firm GFA supports the implementation of the project.


The GSP has covered a lot of ground since its inception. The result is a large body of information on governance issues. What follows is an account of some of our initiatives.

  • Specialist digital media support for Corruption Watch, the local chapter of Transparency International, has led to the increased use of its website, with users and online traffic roughly doubled since 2015. The organisation’s whistleblower system for corruption reports now also receives four times as many submissions via the website.
  • The support for the modernisation of the public procurement system underpins the government’s efforts to create and use efficient systems and reduce corruption risks. A new e-procurement system and central supplier database saves the government an estimated ZAR 25 billion of its annual procurement budget of ZAR 500 billion.
  • A data centre developed at the Office of the Public Service Commission provides a reliable and user-friendly database on the state of the public services, including a Public Service Barometer. This is a major source of information for parliament and state organisations, which will improve the evidence base for national planning.
  • The Department of Cooperative Governance has developed ‘Business-Adopt-a-Municipality’ (BAAM) guidelines to encouraging better cooperation between the public and private sectors. The so-called BAAM partnerships encourage collaboration in areas such as community integration, natural disaster management and economic development.
  • The Nkonkobe Economic Development Agency, among other organisations, has benefited from capacity development measures focused on local economic development. As a result, it has been able to improve its organisational processes and deliver better services to the area’s businesses and communities. For example, it managed to secure ZAR 22 million from National Treasury to upgrade footpaths between the town of Alice, Eastern Cape, and the University of Fort Hare, making them safer and more accessible.
  • After completing training on asset-based community planning and community safety facilitated by the programme, four municipalities have managed to increase their level of public participation, with many citizens, civil society organisations and business federations now getting involved.
  • The development of the Integrated Urban Development Framework benefitted from programme inputs which made it more inclusive of the needs of all population groups. The Framework has been accepted by cabinet and will be implemented in the near future, bringing the prospect of better living conditions to urban areas.
  • Support for the Ehlanzeni District Municipality led to the development of guidelines on inter-governmental relations. These provide a framework for interaction between the district and the local municipalities, and are a potential blueprint for other district municipalities.
  • The programme has contributed to the development of national guidelines on human resource planning, the Human Resource Development Strategic Framework, and the mainstreaming of HIV and Aids in service delivery. These contribute to strengthening governance and building a capable state.