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Why public governance matters

- Kemantha Govender

“Public governance matters and there is an imperative to improve it in South Africa," says Dr Jacqui Poltera, who recently joined the WSG.

Adding, "particularly given our longstanding history of inequality, unlawful behaviour and injustice."

Poltera has a PhD in Philosophy that focused on ethical theory and formerly held a research fellowship at the Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy in Sydney. She spent eight years working in the Australian public health system where she implemented national reform agendas and managed programmes in Indigenous and rural health. This involved cross-sector collaboration with the private, not-for-profit and public sectors as well as ensuring that systems of clinical, corporate, and professional governance were implemented.

“On the face of it, South Africa has many of the raw ingredients and infrastructure needed for good public governance. Representative here is the Constitution, National Development Goals, key legislation such as the Public Services Act and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, Public Service Anti-Corruption Strategy, and the Code of Conduct.”

“And yet, South Africa faces serious public governance challenges relating to corruption, inequality and mismanagement of public funds,” says Poltera.

She sees these perceptions as consistent with the findings in the 2017 Ibrahim Index of African Governance Report (IIAG Report). “Some of the pressing governance deficits in South Africa include corruption investigation, transparency of state owned companies, education provision and quality, and basic health services.”

Poltera has published her work in national and international peer-reviewed journals and lectured at universities in Australia and South Africa on topics such as business and professional ethics, public health policy, media ethics and the law, epistemology, critical thinking and logic.

As a newly appointed WSG senior lecturer, Poltera is excited to be back to the tertiary education sector and applying her skills within systems of public governance to lecturing on the topic. “I see it as a dynamic and challenging role which has the potential to make a positive difference to the quality of public thinking. It is an excellent opportunity to learn from, work with, and be challenged by, WSG post-graduate students and staff.”

Research interests:

  • Professional ethics, public governance and accountability
  • Agency, identity and politics
  • Policy debates at the interface of ethics, justice and the law
  • Violence and oppression
  • Feminist approaches to governance
  • Non-racialism and ignorance