Date: 15 January 2021

The National Policy Development Framework, approved by the South African cabinet on 2 December 2020, seeks to entrench good public policy-making practices in South Africa by setting out clear principles for effective policy development and implementation. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa stipulates that people’s needs must be responded to, and that the public must be encouraged to participate in policymaking. South Africa is confronted with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. In order to address these problems, the South African Government has policy levers at its disposal to promote employment creation and improve the socio-economic conditions of citizens.

Since 1994, very few national government departments have developed policy development frameworks to prescribe and set out procedures and processes on how to develop policy, as well as policy templates. However, policy-making challenges prevail in the country, as the government does not have a standardised or systematic approach on how to develop evidenced-based policies in South Africa.

The introduction of the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) in 2015 that replaced the Regulatory Impact Assessment was the first major step in ensuring that proposed public policies are thoroughly analysed for likely impacts, costs and benefits, risks and aligned to national priorities as stipulated in the National Development Plan. In addition, it goes a long way to ensure that developed policies respond to the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, by inter alia, reducing the regulatory burden on businesses to promote inclusive economic growth and to boost the country’s competitiveness.

This framework aims to regulate policy management processes in South Africa. It will codify policy-making practices and entrench evidence-based policy-making. Further it seeks to guide officials, on policy analysis, policy development, policy authorisation, policy implementation and policy reviews. In doing so, policymaking standards and guiding principles are introduced for the entire policy-making cycle. The framework further clarifies approaches to intra/inter departmental consultation (policy coordination) and external stakeholder consultations during policy management process. It seeks to embed the Socio-Economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) in the policy-making process.

The framework introduces mechanisms for policy monitoring and evaluation (alignment with the Government Wide Monitoring and Evaluation System and National Evaluation Policy Framework). Ultimately, it aims to promote, facilitate and institutionalise ex-post impact evaluations to improve policy performance and reduction in regulatory burden.

This document is a result of an extensive consultative process spanning over a period of two years with government departments in order to understand and appreciate dynamics, complexities and their policy making practices. It is benchmarked against similar policy frameworks in countries such as Malaysia,
United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Kenya.