The creation of nine provincial governments in 1994 held great promise as a key
reform towards meeting the ideals of democracy and inclusiveness, in addition
to representing an attempt to make government more efficient and effective.
Nine provinces superseded an apartheid-based system of governing that defined the
Republic of South Africa as four provinces containing self-governing territories and
independent homelands for Africans. In cognisance of emerging arguments that propose
that the South African government would operate more efficiently and effectively in
the absence of this middle sphere of government, this article seeks to challenge such
claims. Undoubtedly, provinces are hampered by a number of challenges, not the least
of which relates to their limited abilities to generate sufficient own revenue. At the same
time much of the responsibility for the provision of public goods and services rests with
the provinces in the manner specified in Schedules 4 and 5 of the Constitution of the
Republic of South Africa, 1996. The natural question arising from the latter situation is
– if not for Provinces, would either local government or national government be able
to fill the void that would be left behind by the exit (partial or otherwise) of provinces?
In light of the above-noted arguments and counter-arguments, the right of existence of
provincial government(s) is briefly explored.