Africa Notes: The Process of Decision-Making in Contemporary South Africa - December, 1983
December 28, 1983
Before 1980, especially during the 12-year prime ministership of Balthazar Johannes Vorster, the South African government's decision-making process was less than methodical. Although rigid in personality and an unquestioned, authoritarian leader, Vorster believed in a decentralized style of management.
Cabinet ministers conformed to the overall policies that were set by Vorster and a small oligarchy. But within that conformity to an overall plan, the ministers were encouraged to run their departments with little interference from the prime minister. Such autonomy stimulated political competition among departments. Often ministries were kept ignorant of what others were doing or planning. Collective responsibility was difficult to impose. In practice, there were no instruments, other than personal appeals to the prime minister, to limit this competition or to coordinate the different, sometimes crosscutting, governmental activities.