GPI Sustainable development

Enshrined in the founding provisions of South Africa’s democratic constitution is the commitment to a “multi-party system of democratic government, to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness”. Today, South Africa is entering a new form of multi-party governance through the emergence of coalition governments in municipalities across the country. Following the Constitutional Court’s June 2020 decision to strike down parts of the Electoral Act of 1998, there have also been critical discussions about whether our national and provincial electoral framework of proportional representation fosters the accountability and responsiveness to which our constitution aspires.

Both the nascent era of widespread coalition governance and the debate over electoral reform occur while the confidence that citizens have in our democracy is depreciating. In order to revive South Africans’ belief in our democratic system, we must renew that system to improve accountability. Many of the policy proposals that Good Governance Africa (GGA) considers in this briefing already exist, but we evaluate them in specific relation to how they can deepen political accountability in South Africa. The upshot is that a shift in approach from our institutions, political parties, civil society and citizens themselves is required.

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Pranish Desai is a doctoral student in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His core areas of focus are in comparative politics and political methodology, with a specific interest in the politics of Southern Africa. Between 2021 and 2024, Pranish held several key positions within the Governance Insights and Analytics programme at GGA. In these roles, he was centrally responsible for the elevation and enhancement of the Governance Performance Index as GGA's flagship governance assessment tool. Before departing GGA, Pranish also played a key role in the development of our strategic framework for the 2024-2028 period.

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Mxolisi Zondo is a Researcher in the Governance Delivery and Impact programme at Good Governance Africa. He holds a BA Honours in International Relations and a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of Pretoria (UP). He is currently pursuing his Master of Arts Degree in Diplomatic Studies at UP. His dissertation looks at the extent to which South Africa’s involvement in peace missions on the African continent serves the country’s national interest. Before joining Good Governance Africa, he worked as a Public Policy Intern at Frontline Africa Advisory. He has also worked as an Assistant Lecturer and Research Assistant at the University of Pretoria.