This position paper is one of a series of three papers that argue for crucial reforms of the South African state. The goal of these reforms is to realise a rigorous reduction in corruption and in the influence of patronage in South African politics while improving the political responsiveness, efficiency, and developmental effectiveness of its public administration.

This position paper argues for reform of the rules and procedures that govern appointment to, and removal from, administrative posts in South Africa’s public service and its municipalities. The aim is to substantially reduce corruption and the influence of patronage in South African politics, while enhancing democratic control, professionalism and the developmental effectiveness of South Africa’s public administration.

More specifically, through a survey of comparative and domestic democratic experience, the paper argues that to build a public administration that is suitably insulated from illicit and inappropriate political interference, South Africa needs to make significant adjustments to its public personnel practices. Centrally, it needs to create an independent administrative check on appointment and removal processes, by assigning certain stages of these processes to independently constituted bodies. The creation of this check is a condition for the whole system of administrative checks and balances. The primary purpose of this position paper is to establish the general need for this reform.

Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi is the Chairperson of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration.