This article examines the struggles of the South African government to establish school-wide evaluation policies within post-apartheid institutions. It is demonstrated that even when such evaluation policies promise teacher development and whole-school improvement, there is significant resistance to government intervention in the school environment. It is also shown that even when individual schools express a willingness to participate in such evaluation actions, they remain deeply suspicious of, and even subvert, the original goals of these policies. The explanation for such behaviour is lodged within the troubled history of the apartheid inspection system, on the one hand, and on the underestimation in policy design of the deep-rooted suspicions of state surveillance systems even under the terms of a new democracy. In conclusion, the article shows how this fierce--though understandable--contestation of school-level autonomy actually works against the long-term developmental interests of both teachers and learners in South Africa's 29,000 schools.