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Political leadership and public policy in Africa

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submitted on 2023-09-12, 05:23 and posted on 2023-09-13, 09:45 authored by Ndangwa Noyoo

This chapter examines the relationship between political leadership and public policymaking in Africa in a relatively more democratic governance contexts. It revisits policymaking in post-apartheid South Africa during the presidency of the second democratically elected president, Thabo Mbeki (1999–2008), to illustrate how political leadership and public policymaking can be intertwined in Africa. This chapter also demonstrates how policymaking should be typifed by political leaders overseeing government bureaucracies in Africa. Thus, it contends that political leadership is critical to public policy and policymaking processes in Africa. African countries need more politicians who can grasp and master the quintessential elements of public policy in general and public policymaking in particular. In this way, they may extricate themselves from the morass of ubiquitous civil wars and various forms of unrest, myriad social ills, bad governance, maladministration and corruption, among others. Therefore, in Africa, political leaders, particularly presidents, must strive to be policy entrepreneurs for African countries to develop. Bureaucrats and politicians in Africa are often confned in daily mundane rituals and rhythmic actions to keep a government functioning or incubate and innovate transformative policies. While relying on Mbeki’s experience, persona and character, this chapter argues that Africa needs political leaders and government bureaucrats who are policy entrepreneurs to address the plethora of development challenges. The central assumption is that if African political leaders aspire to be policy entrepreneurs, many countries will develop faster. This discussion is organised alongside the following issues: (i) The history of policy regimes in South Africa, (ii) Conceptual premises of the discussion, (iii) Public policy and political leadership and (iv) Thabo Mbeki as a policy entrepreneur.

Other Information

Published in: Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa
See article on publisher's website:



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This chapter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

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