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Making Institutions Work in South Africa

Daniel Plaatjies, editor
Making Institutions Work in South Africa
ISBN: 978-1-928246-36-7
2021/240 pages
Distributed for Best Red, an imprint of HSRC Press,
in the US and its possessions, Canada, and Asia with the exception of China
"Timely, opportune, and pertinent. [The authors] interrogate a very critical and rudimentary global governance theme ... in a South African context."—Purshottama Sivanarain Reddy, University of KwaZulu-Natal


Making Institutions Work in South Africa places the structures and processes of institutionalization at the center of debates about democracy, state, and society in South Africa.

As they explore the factors that facilitate, and those that impede, strong, well-functioning institutions, the contributors share three core assumptions: institutions are the pillars of a constitutional democracy; they evolve through the actions of people (agency); and they form structures of dynamic, shared social patterns of behavior through the implementation of the rule of law.


The late Daniel Plaatjies was chair of South Africa's Financial and Fiscal Commission. He previously served as head of the Graduate School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand.


  • Foreword—Judge Dennis Davies.
  • Institutions: Nexus Between Society, Markets, and the State—D. Plaatjies.
  • Trust in South African Institutions: The Role of Leadership as Primary Trust-Building Institution—E. Schwella.
  • Independent Oversight Bodies: Lessons From Fiscal, Productivity and Regulatory Institutions—S. Dougherty, A. Renda, and L. von Trapp.
  • Governance in Representative Democracies: Attitudes to Technocratic versus Democratic Governments—L. De Mello.
  • Economic Institutions and the Frustration of Economic Policy—N.S. Makgetla.
  • Institutional Analysis of the Prospects of a Social Compact for Growth, Employment, and Equity in South Africa—K. Creamer.
  • The Department as Institution: The National Treasury and Its Institutional Role—S. Friedman.
  • Separation of Powers and the Dangers of Judicial Underreach—M. Cosser, N. Bohler-Muller, G. Pienaar,.
  • Legal Aid in SA: A Successful Post-Apartheid Institution Supporting the Rule of Law—J. Klaaren.
  • Rebuilding SOEs: Institutional, Organizational, and Governance Reforms Necessary for Success—M. Adam.
  • From Bewysburo to the Biometric State: A Critique of Migration Institutions and Policies in South Africa—R. Adams, S. Rule, and T. Masilela.