About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.


South Africa is currently experiencing a dramatic paradigm shift from an outdated colonial-style all pervasive apartheid system to a more open and individualized democratic political culture. The impact of this value change is still open-ended and no definitive assessment of its scope, contents, impact and consequences for the civil service system is possible at this moment in time. For comparative purposes the paper is organised around six sub themes: firstly as a point of departure the history and development of the South African civil service system are described and an effort is made to identify and classify the development into distinct phases; the second focus of analysis is human resource management in government organisations, also known as the internal labour market; thirdly the application of the concept of representativeness in South Africa, especially in so far as it reflects past policies and the influence of the present transition, are described; fourthly the politicization of the civil service as it applies to both the old and post-apartheid regimes is explored; fifthly the perceptions of the previously advantaged citizens and disadvantaged communities of the civil service, and changes currently occuring, are discussed under the heading of public opinion; and finally reform and changes in the civil service system, especially those embarked on by the new democratic elected government which aim to fundamentally reshape the public service to fulfill its role in the new dispensation, is touched upon. In conclusion, an attempt is made to integrate the trends and characteristics identified above to classify the emerging new civil service system in terms of the civil service configurations developed for comparative purposes.

Civil Service Systems in Comparative Perspective

South Africa: a country study
Project Co-ordinator: J J Müller
Contributors: Fanie Cloete, William Fox, Kobus Müller, Erwin Schwella, Frederik Uys and Andries van Rooyen

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.