Democracy Lab

The Changemakers

How reformers made the Bangladeshi civil service more responsive to people's needs.

On an August night in 2007, hundreds of people gathered outside the regional passport office in Comilla, Bangladesh, to secure a spot in what they knew would become a long queue by daybreak. A fight soon erupted between people trying to maintain their places in line. When the police intervened, citizens pelted them with stones and then turned their anger on nearby vehicles. Police then fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, and 25 people were injured before the army could move in to restore order.

This incident illustrated the kinds of frequent problems and tensions caused by ineffective and strained public services in Bangladesh, the world's seventh most-populous country. Earlier, in 2006, the Bangladeshi government, in collaboration with Britain's international aid agency, the Department for International Development (DFID), launched an innovative program called Managing At The Top 2, or MATT 2 for short. The program targeted problems in the public service that were making everyday life more difficult for Bangladeshi residents, including the nearly 50 million people living in deprivation or extreme poverty. Conceived by a small group of insiders and advisers, the program aimed to change the bureaucratic behavior of top-level civil servants and thereby enable them to demand long-lasting change in civil service operations.

In 2000, Bangladesh had roughly one million civil servants, or about six for every 1,000 citizens. The ratio was far lower than that of many other countries. For instance, in the 1990s, the average for Asia was 26 civil servants per 1,000 citizens and the average for OECD countries was 77 per 1,000.

Inefficiency had long been a hallmark of Bangladesh's public services. A 2001 World Bank study rated the country's bureaucratic efficiency as 4.7 on a ten-point scale, with 10 being peak efficiency. Other South Asian countries fared better: Sri Lanka notched 6.7 while India came in at 5.5.

The public had little confidence in the integrity of civil servants who ran the country's nearly 60 ministries, responsible for health, education, agriculture, and transport services, among many others. A 2002 survey by Transparency International found that 33 percent of households had paid bribes for an electricity connection, 65 percent said it was almost impossible to get a trade license without money or influence, and 70 percent reported unethical practices in getting patients admitted to public hospitals.

Government ineffectiveness had several causes. In the 1990s, sharp political divisions led the two main competing parties (the Bangladesh National Party and its rival, the Awami League) to make wholesale staffing changes every time government control changed hands. The frequent shuffling crippled the civil service sector, as the government in power would promote party followers to the top ranks of the bureaucracy, and transfer non-supporters to lower positions. Political machinations dampened creativity and initiative across the civil service. Civil servants with no political allegiance learned to keep a low profile, as any effective government program might be seen as a success story for the party in power, and could become a target for retribution when the opposition party took over. Moreover, civil servants who improved ways of doing things often found it difficult to sustain their efforts. In many cases, even modest reforms ended when the reformer left the department or ministry, as each new government would scrap programs and suspend projects instituted by its predecessor.

A rigid hierarchy weighed on attitudes and behavior in the civil service. Rizwan Khair, a Bangladeshi civil servant who served as academic coordinator at BRAC University, a research and training institute in Bangladesh, explained: "Once you enter that structure, the so-called ‘iron framework,' your whole mentality changes. You go by processes, rules, and regulations. You become unresponsive to the needs of the citizens." The hierarchical nature of the civil service also created strict boundaries between senior and junior civil servants that impeded the exchange of ideas and the ability to make decisions.

Another challenge was Bangladesh's market for public office, in which influential officials acting as middlemen secured high-level posts for those willing to pay. Positions that provided greater opportunities for graft, such as infrastructure, commanded premium prices. The market for public offices made performance unimportant for promotion and accelerated the shuffling of high-level positions, as brokers' earnings depended largely on how many appointments and transfers they handled.

Numerous efforts to overhaul the civil service collapsed. Between 1982 and 2002, 17 different commissions issued reports that urged reform, but none produced significant changes. In 1999, the government tried an incremental approach with Managing At The Top 1 (MATT 1), a program conceived by officials at the Ministry of Public Administration, with funding and technical support from DFID, to provide project management training to some of the country's most senior civil servants. MATT 1 ran for three years and engaged 100 senior civil servants in a series of six-week training sessions held at universities in Britain. During the sessions, participants prepared project proposals to introduce reforms within a department or ministry, and at the end of the training, submitted the proposals to the heads of their ministry. Observers deemed MATT 1 a limited success. John Wallace, a former Ireland civil servant who had prior work experience in Bangladesh, explained that the initial program lacked sustainability: "The MATT 1 participants emerged with new ideas, new thoughts, new concepts, but stepped back into work roles and work environments which were totally unchanged."

When MATT 1 ended in 2002, a group of alumni and administrators proposed a follow-up program that would improve on MATT 1's shortcomings. The new organizers included high-placed persons such as Secretary of Public Administration Anwarul Bar Chowdhury and Mir Obaidur Rahman, one of the senior directors at the government's civil service training college and the program manager of MATT 1. They wanted a successor program that would build confidence and expertise by allowing participants to develop and implement their own small-scale projects. Chowdhury lobbied Bangladesh's Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who gave the program her blessing. DFID approved funding and worked with senior civil servants to design the program. In October 2005, after prolonged discussions, officials at the Ministry of Public Administration and DFID agreed on an ambitious seven-year, $25 million project that would target a significant number of senior-level managers in the civil service.

The framework had two key components. The first was a development program that would allow participants to design and implement small-scale reform projects; the second called for MATT 2 consultants to provide performance-management and strategic-planning advice to the Ministry of Public Administration. As part of the development program, facilitators would train 40 to 45 civil servants to design performance improvement projects (PIPs) targeting problems they faced on a daily basis. Graduates of the course then had to implement seven or eight PIPs within the next four months. One of every four of these first-level participants -- chosen based on their performance -- then participated in an eight-week additional course. These high performers would develop and implement six-month projects known as super performance improvement projects (SPIPs).

DFID contracted with Tribal-Helm Corp. Ltd., a Britain-based business and management consultancy, to manage MATT 2. John Wallace, who worked at Tribal-Helm, headed the implementation along with Roger Fernando, a human resources-management specialist. They soon teamed up with Mosharraf Hossain, a former civil servant with experience at the Bangladesh Public Administration Training College, to run the program. Eventually, other facilitators from the training college helped lead the workshops. 

Wallace, Fernando, and Hossain faced a stern task in trying to make MATT 2 work. They had to overcome skepticism and inertia at all levels of the civil service, identify key areas requiring reform, and then implement the ambitious effort across a broad span of Bangladesh's government.

The team members recognized that they had to enlist support and build a mandate for reform. They therefore organized a series of meetings at which over 230 senior civil servants identified policies and processes that were ripe for change. Participants listed impediments to doing non-routine work or showing initiative, identified their own development needs, and provided examples of policies or projects they had tried. Based on these conversations, Fernando and Hossain selected 14 target areas for reform, including strengthening leadership, creating accountability, managing resources, and delivering pro-poor and pro-women services effectively.

To lobby high-level support, Hossain and Fernando then took their case to the government's top decision makers. At a two-day conference, 33 secretaries, along with additional and joint secretaries from the remaining 29 ministries, endorsed MATT 2. "We said: ‘We have done a development needs analysis by asking your colleagues a list of questions and this is what they have told us. Is it your view that they are on the right path, particularly with these priorities?'... Every single ministry was represented, and they unanimously endorsed the 14 items and the priorities," Fernando said.

Between September and November 2006, the MATT 2 team held the program's first training workshop. Over the course of two weeks, facilitators asked five-member teams to discuss the problems they faced in fulfilling their job responsibilities. They then asked each team to focus on one issue and develop a PIP to solve the problem. In most cases, the PIPs focused on issues of service delivery, governance or land and environment. Many PIPs included a gender or poverty component designed to provide better services to women, children, and poor families.

The participants then traveled to Singapore or Thailand, two neighboring countries with records of efficient service delivery, for another two-week session to learn about issues relevant to their own projects. Upon their return to Bangladesh, the project teams spent a week working in low-income areas, exploring grassroots service-delivery issues and citizens' service needs.

For many participants, this week was transformative. A joint secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, Afzal Hossain, and his team visited a slum in Dhaka in 2011. In sessions with residents, he and his team discussed ways to prevent fires that frequently ravaged the city's poor areas. He said: "High-ranking civil servants sit high above and have privileges. But when completing the PIPs, they are compelled to work with common people and compelled to see their problems. ... They go to rural areas to serve the people and learn to become more service oriented. ... Earlier they would say to citizens, ‘Who are you?' and now they might say, ‘How can I help you?'"

Project teams spent the sixth and final week refining their project proposals and identifying the resources needed to implement their PIPs. At the same time, participants also developed individual action plans that would help them improve their own job performance and effectiveness in bringing about changes in their workplaces. The goal was to help participants change their own behavior in ways that were personally fulfilling as well as helpful to their organizations. 

Before the teams began implementation, participants sought approval from the secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration to ensure continued high-level support. Once a team completed a PIP successfully, its members presented the results and their findings to other participants and mentors.

Although not all proposed projects were successful or sustained, during the next several years, MATT 2 participants produced a number of innovative PIPs. The 2007 passport services PIP was an example of a pilot project that was implemented, sustained, and replicated. The team that implemented the project assessed existing passport services and designed a PIP to farm out passport submission and collection to post offices around Dhaka. The PIP reduced the waiting time for passport services from an average of six hours, to under an hour. The department replicated the experiment in five other city post offices and 70 district post offices in 2008.

Media support for the PIPs was instrumental to sustaining successful initiatives because it spurred citizen awareness and demand for better services. Fernando explained, "A vast majority of successful PIPs involved the mobilization of citizen clients. We asked the PIP team to make sure that they got the public and newspapers on their side." For instance, the Ministry of Home Affairs extended and replicated the 2007 passport PIP when the pilot project ended; Fernando attributed the ministry's speedy response to a public clamor for continuing passport services in post offices.

In July 2008, the MATT 2 team and Ministry of Public Administration officials launched the second stage of the program. They selected 10 to 12 participants who had chosen innovative PIPs, implemented projects particularly well, and exhibited good English language skills for additional training in Britain to develop SPIPs. During their time abroad, project teams interned at host organizations. Steve Taplin, who was responsible for placing participants in host institutions in Britain, said: "The value that I saw was that the program extended their thinking, challenged them, helped them think through the project development cycle. Once they inculcated that, they could translate it to a whole range of settings." Upon their return to Bangladesh, the participants worked with mentors to implement their SPIPs. Examples of SPIPs included projects to improve the delivery system of a pension plan and mobilizing local resources for a 100 primary schools.

As MATT 2 progressed, the team institutionalized the 2006 conference with ministerial secretaries, making it an annual event. Secretaries or their deputies gathered for two days to hear about accomplishments from the past year and discuss next steps. Wallace noted: "It re-empowered the MATT 2 process. So there was never any question of it not happening: The precedent was established, and once a precedent is established in Bangladesh, it is difficult for anybody to step back from it." The annual secretaries' workshops were an important means of bolstering support for MATT 2. Hossain of the MATT 2 team recalled, "Each year we got the secretaries' endorsement, and this was the most powerful thing."

The program's design imposed limitations, however. MATT 2 largely recruited civil servants from the influential administrative cadre, triggering resentment among members of the 26 civil service groups in foreign affairs, police, taxation, trade, and others. Observers such as Mohammad Mohabbat Khan, a professor of public administration at Dhaka University, criticized the foreign tours to Singapore, Thailand, and the United Kingdom as the wrong kind of incentive for participating in the program. Moreover, the duration of MATT 2 strained resources. The government found it difficult to spare a large number of senior civil servants for the training. 

Others pointed out that MATT 2 did not build linkages with similar programs in Bangladesh, nor did it reach out to civil servants who had participated in MATT 1. Khair of BRAC noted, "They did not build on the learning and did not evaluate and learn." He added, "MATT 2 is run in isolation and there are no linkages with programs like ours at BRAC institute. There are no exchanges of the ideas and experiences learned from abroad." Doubts also arose over the sustainability of the PIPs and SPIPs that the teams had already implemented.

The program's people-centered approach, geared towards changing the behavior of civil servants rather than overhauling operations, did not produce deep reforms. MATT 2 might have had a greater impact if civil servants had used the project implementation skills acquired through PIPs and SPIPs to introduce and institutionalize changes within their ministries and to influence the behavior of junior civil servants. Although some graduates did so, the Ministry of Public Administration failed to capitalize on their efforts.

In addition, MATT 2's advisory role was underused. The government did not push structural changes or seek guidance from MATT 2 advisers to tackle the underlying causes of bureaucratic paralysis: the ability of party leaders to promote, demote, or transfer civil servants; the tendency of party divisions to quash successful initiatives or even attempts at reforms; and the existence of a market for public office. These embedded issues made lasting reform unlikely.

Still, MATT 2's achievements were noteworthy. Between 2006 and 2011, the program trained 1,323 senior civil servants, including 195 women. By June 2011, MATT 2 trainees had completed more than 200 PIPs in the areas of health, education, governance, environment, and poverty alleviation, and an additional 32 PIPs were in progress.

Although the program had not solved many deep-rooted problems of Bangladesh's civil service, it had worked to overcome the civil service's historic resistance to change by embedding projects within a training program and creating a network of civil servants capable of implementing a broader agenda of reform. More importantly, it provided a large number of senior civil servants with substantial hands-on experience in understanding problems and developing solutions.

The MATT 2 training groups and project teams, made up of different grades of civil servants, challenged traditional thinking and hierarchical decision-making. Manowar Islam, a MATT 2 alumnus and director-general at the Department of Environment in 2011, praised the innovative approach: "MATT 2 was totally different [from civil service trainings]. It changed mindsets. Training was only a part of it. The major part was that you thought about your work and your department. It changed my attitude. Wherever I went, I tried to think about what to change. That was MATT 2's contribution." Members of the MATT 2 team measured their most important achievements relative to the enhanced abilities of civil servants. The program's 1,323 graduates knew how to design, test, and implement reforms. They shared a common experience and were capable of mobilizing for deeper reforms.

MATT 2 made significant strides in a political context that discouraged strong performance and innovation on the part of civil servants. The program taught a large number of senior-level officials to think about creating and sustaining change, with some alumni risking their careers to institutionalize or replicate projects. As Iqbal Mahmood, secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, put it, "There is a mindset change in many bureaucrats, and a kind of cultural and behavioral change in the process. ... You know that there is a problem and you feel that you need to address the problem within the shortest possible time. ... There is also the knowledge that you cannot address the problem alone and need to have the cooperation of others. So, it is a kind of blending of coordination, teamwork, and leadership."

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Democracy Lab

Redrawing the Map for Democracy

How South Africa's post-apartheid government tried to do away with the territorial legacy of racial segregation.

Note: This article is an abridged version of a longer historical case study produced by Innovations for Successful Societies, a research program at Princeton University. 

From 1948 to 1994, the ruling National Party government carved apartheid into South Africa's political map, dividing the country's internal administration based on the principle of racial segregation. To escape the legacy of discrimination, the framers of post-apartheid South Africa had to redraw the country's internal boundaries while navigating potentially explosive competing interests. They called upon representatives of each faction to reach a political settlement, albeit an imperfect one, that survives today. The process was challenging and political, but it serves as an example for other transitioning governments dealing with similar mandates.

By 1990, faced with mass rioting, international sanctions, and a determined underground resistance, South Africa's President F.W. de Klerk of the National Party had unbanned the African National Congress (ANC) -- the anti-apartheid movement led by Nelson Mandela -- and began secret negotiations to formulate a post-apartheid government.

Multiparty talks proceeded fitfully, stalling amid civilian fighting and an increase in violence throughout the country, but the specter of mass uprising ultimately forced compromise in 1993. "If we didn't [work for a settlement], the masses would have taken to the streets and demanded immediate takeover," Roelf Meyer, a chief negotiator for the National Party government, said. Formally known as the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum, the negotiators set April 1994 as the deadline for both a new constitution and elections -- South Africa's first with universal adult suffrage.

But with elections looming, the post-apartheid map of South Africa was still largely undetermined. The new, unified South Africa with equal citizenship for all would require an end to the practice of segregated homeland territories, or Bantustans, that divided the black African majority from the white and other minority populations. The multiparty negotiators were faced with a difficult task: dividing the country into integrated provinces without reinforcing old wounds from segregation or opening new ones by dividing existing communities. Any discussion about new borders would open the door to groups that wanted semi-independent ethnic enclaves separate from the rest of South Africa. Yet ensuring a peaceful transition from minority to majority rule required balancing a wide range of moderate and extremist positions. The two center parties had to weigh voices from the fringes that threatened to act as political spoilers in the process, without rewarding them for using violence to advance their agendas.

South Africa was previously divided into four provinces (two former British colonies and two previously independent Boer republics) and 10 homeland areas. Under apartheid, the government did not recognize residents of the homelands as full citizens of South Africa, as part of a broader strategy of racial segregation and discrimination. Residents of the homelands received markedly inferior social services, had fewer economic opportunities, and were considered guest workers if they sought employment in one of the provinces.

During the transition era, homeland leaders argued for divisions along ethnic lines that would allow them to retain power; in an ethnically diverse community, they stood little chance of winning election to political office. Long-serving homeland leaders were strong advocates of such ethnically defined provinces. In KwaZulu, Mangosuthu Buthelezi commanded considerable influence through the Inkatha Freedom Party, a Zulu cultural movement turned political party. Other negotiators could not ignore Buthelezi's demands due to ongoing violence between ANC and Inkatha supporters in South Africa's urban slums, where migrant workers from KwaZulu often lived in cramped hostels. Tension between the groups had been growing as apartheid came to an end. In July 1991, newspapers had reported that members of the apartheid government's security forces had funded and trained Inkatha supporters to provoke violence between the two groups in order to undermine the ANC.

Buthelezi was not alone; other homeland leaders, such as Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana, also sought to keep power by preserving the boundaries of the homelands they controlled. To bolster their bargaining positions, the homeland leaders teamed up with another group advocating segregation: conservative Afrikaners who demanded an ethnic Afrikaner homeland (volkstaat). This faction, which included leaders of railway workers, farmers, and mine workers, threatened to use their collective power to damage the country's economy if the ANC did not set aside a territory for white speakers of Afrikaans. Buthelezi, Mangope, and leaders of the conservative Afrikaners formed the Concerned South Africans Group (COSAG), later called the Freedom Alliance, through which they sought to preserve or augment the power they held under apartheid.

More radical Afrikaner groups also used threats of violence to gain more influence than their level of national support warranted; media reports estimate that these groups represented only a minority of South Africa's roughly 3 million Afrikaners. During the negotiating forum's constitutional discussions, members of the far-right paramilitary Afrikaner Resistance Movement rampaged through the conference center. The vandalism and intimidation of participants made it clear that extremists were willing to use violence to achieve their objectives.

Even though the ANC was vehemently opposed to the plans advocated by these factions, they still needed the conservative Afrikaners and the homeland leaders to "buy in" to the border-drawing process, in order to avoid further violence and isolate groups like the Afrikaner Resistance Movement.

Recognizing that they needed both technical expertise and representation of the competing viewpoints to draw up a mutually acceptable map, the negotiating forum's leaders set up the Commission on the Demarcation/Delimitation of States/Provinces/Regions (CDDR) in May 1993, which would hear and evaluate proposals for the new boundaries from interested parties around the country. The commission would then report its conclusions and recommendations to the negotiating forum.

The CDDR was made up of 15 commissioners, with wide representation among the negotiating parties, though the ANC and the National Party retained significant influence over the process and each nominated one of the commission's co-chairmen. Members were chosen to reflect the political, gender, and racial makeup of South Africa. Although the commissioners had different political affiliations, they were united by the desire to find a solution that would enable the elections to move forward.

"You had to get a balance, because if you had somebody that was so hell-bent on their own political view, then you would never have been able to come up with a consensus document," Renosi Mokate, head of the technical committee, explained. "Because we were all trying to arrive at a workable solution for the country ... people also tempered their own ideological and political agendas."

The commissioners' first task was to decide how to evaluate boundary proposals. The negotiating forum mandated that the CDDR take into account historical boundaries, the availability of infrastructure and service delivery, existing government structures, demographics, economic viability, potential for development, "cultural and language realities," and that it limit financial costs, inconvenience to citizens, and dislocation of service. Interpretation of those criteria, however, was in the hands of the commissioners themselves. They organized the criteria into four categories -- economic aspects, geographic coherence, institutional and administrative capacity, and socio-cultural issues -- and agreed to evaluate each proposed boundary on its merits within each of those four categories. The "cultural and linguistic realities" criterion posed a particular challenge for the commission. "We had to take into account that in demarcating the provinces, we must not reinforce the legacy of apartheid," Mokate said.

With the April 1994 deadline for elections looming, time was critical. The commission first met in May 1993 with only three months to gather data, hold public hearings, and complete its work. Moreover, its technical committee lacked basic resources to carry out its mandate. The government of South Africa had never produced a census of the entire population, and other official statistics did not include the homelands, leaving the commission searching for other sources for the country's demographic information. As a starting point for their analysis, the commissioners decided to base the provincial borders largely on a map created by the government-funded Development Bank of South Africa in the 1980s. In order to plan its own investments, the Development Bank had divided the country into nine economic regions, disregarding existing homeland and provincial boundaries. The ANC representatives also used information from World Bank missions to supplement their knowledge of South Africa's demographics and infrastructure, since World Bank officials had the resources to conduct aerial surveys and extract information from institutions such as the army.

To give South Africans a voice in the process, the commission asked the public to propose ideas. Individuals could send their suggestions directly to the commission or attend public forums held around the country, which were attended by delegations from the commission and advertised over radio and in newspapers. Commissioners recalled engaging in lively discussions with the public during those events. "Our job was to be there, to listen, to take notes, but to also interrogate," Mokate said. For example, the commission grilled a leader of the Xhosa people when he proposed an ethnically Xhosa-centered province, asking whether the province would be economically viable and asking him to consider the implications of creating provinces elsewhere on an ethnic basis.

Although public consultation aimed to make the process inclusive, the commissioners and their researchers recognized that many people could not participate. Discussions were often dominated by people who were well organized and who had the money and education to engage with the issues. By contrast, people in poor, far-flung, and weakly organized communities -- often ones in the homelands -- were less involved.

Once the public consultation phase was complete, the technical committee summarized and cataloged the arguments, and compiled a report for the commissioners, highlighting the major issues for consideration. The requirement that each province be contiguous eliminated many proposals centered on linguistic majorities, such as the submission from the Bophuthatswana leadership, which included several physically unconnected regions. Initial proposals to set up an all white, Afrikaans-speaking volkstaat also did not meet tests of administrative rationality. Paul Daphne, a commissioner and ANC party leader, recalled: "The people proposing a volkstaat outcome were battling to find a map which would show any part of the country with a majority of whites in it." COSAG, the conservative Afrikaners group, was particularly persistent in to its push for majority single-language communities.

Commissioners hotly debated whether to split the Eastern Cape into two provinces. Those favoring the split pointed to the demands of two former homeland areas: the Transkei and the Ciskei. The Transkei leader, an important supporter of the ANC, urged the party to create a separate province based on his homeland, arguing that the Transkei would receive more development attention as a separate province. Some commissioners argued that it would be better to unite the relatively underdeveloped former homelands in a single province that included the economically vibrant coastal cities of Port Elizabeth and East London. In the final proposal, economic considerations trumped political pressures and the Eastern Cape remained a single province. 

In parallel discussions, the commissioners considered creating a Northern Cape province by splitting up the Western Cape. Both the National Party and segments of the conservative Afrikaner contingent supported the proposal for the Northern Cape. The National Party was convinced that the demographics of the proposed territory (which would have a majority Afrikaans-speaking population) would give it a better chance of winning provincial elections there. Conservative Afrikaners, for their part, thought that a Northern Cape province might vote in favor of hosting an Afrikaner homeland. Opponents argued that such a province would not be economically viable.

The night before it delivered its report to the negotiating forum, the commission put the Northern Cape decision to a vote. At first, Afrikaner representative Koos Reyneke declined to vote, despite his instrumental role in the original volkstaat proposal. Reyneke knew that many of the region's residents wished to be included in the Western Cape province, and he did not want to go against their wishes. After the initial vote ended in a tie, however, Reyneke was convinced to vote in favor of the new province because of a bargain he had previously brokered with other conservative Afrikaners. In exchange for his vote, the conservative Afrikaners promised to support his proposal for an Afrikaner homeland near Pretoria, the country's administrative capital. The Northern Cape proposal won by a single vote, but might have deadlocked had an ANC-nominated commissioner not been absent. In this instance, politics triumphed over economics.

The CDDR submitted its report to the negotiating forum on July 31, 1993, recommending in broad strokes a nine-province map, acknowledging that certain highly contested border towns and communities might warrant further investigation. It also discussed a volkstaat, but noted that the groups advocating one had been unable to unite behind a single proposal for its location. The report was signed by thirteen of the commissioners, while two, Reyneke and Ann Bernstein, a development expert, submitted dissenting reports.

"I would strongly urge the negotiating parties not to impose an undemocratic map on the country," Bernstein wrote in her dissent. "To try and actually produce a regional map for the country in such a short time and think that this will resolve the differences that exist between all the many interests on this matter is to my mind totally unrealistic and dangerous." Bernstein argued that the negotiating forum's original criteria were insufficient: They did not include a position on small versus large provinces and did not ask the CDDR to consider the electoral implications of the regional boundaries. She argued that the proposed map represented a political settlement, brokered in order to move negotiations forward as quickly as possible, and therefore did not represent a viable blueprint for regional administration and development.

The Multi-Party Negotiating Forum accepted the CDDR's report but identified eight "sensitive areas" that had not been fully resolved. Apparently acceding to some of Bernstein's concerns, the negotiators extended the CDDR's deadline, sending the commissioners back to gather additional citizen input on the "sensitive areas," including whether the Eastern Cape should be split, whether a Northern Cape province should be created, and where Pretoria should fall. After reissuing a call for proposals and commentary, the CDDR submitted its second report in October 1993, effectively concluding the commissioners' work.

In their second report, the CDDR's two chairmen argued that the responsibility "rests with the political leaders" to negotiate boundaries and convince their constituents to accept the subsequent outcome. "The demarcation of regions ... deals with the wishes, fears, and emotions of human beings," they wrote, "and therefore requires a forum capable of reaching consensus and agreement through a process of compromise and 'give' and 'take.' [The CDDR's mandate was] not to find compromise between conflicting historical, political, and often emotional interests held by various groups."

The report met resistance from communities strongly opposed to their placement in certain boundaries. Political parties had to work to ensure that their supporters accepted the proposed boundaries so that the disputes wouldn't disrupt the upcoming elections. For instance, after working on the commission's technical committee, Trevor Fowler joined the ANC's public relations team in the region that became Gauteng province, receiving phone calls from unhappy constituents asking that their areas be moved to different provinces. Fowler urged callers to table their concerns until after the elections were held. (The constitution contained a provision that allowed communities to dispute a new boundary within 30 days of it coming into effect.) "These comrades agreed that they would not voice their concerns now; they would first go through the elections," said Fowler. "Well, the day after the elections, they called."

The issue of an Afrikaner homeland was also deflected until after the elections, to be considered by a volkstaat board (which ultimately failed to bring the different pro-volkstaat factions together on a single proposal). In Bophuthatswana, however, opposition manifested in a more dangerous and dramatic way. As the country geared up for elections, Lucas Mangope refused to join his homeland with the territory of South Africa or to permit elections to take place. Facing a strike by civil servants and a mutiny by the homeland army in February 1994, Mangope asked heavily armed conservative Afrikaner paramilitaries to secure the territory; members of the extremist Afrikaner Resistance Movement also invaded. In the ensuing conflict between the extremists and Bophuthatswana's mutinying security forces, as many as 100 civilians and combatants were killed. The national army moved in and the government replaced Mangope with a caretaker leader. Both Mangope and the extremist group were discredited by the affair.

On April 27, 1994, South Africa voted as one country for the first time. The CDDR had aimed to create a non-segregated map of the country -- one that would allow elections to proceed without violence and would begin to undo the physical segregation of the homeland system. On that front, it succeeded.

The CDDR had also aimed to create provinces that would be economically sustainable and logically governable. Nearly two decades later, South Africa's provincial boundaries remain largely unchanged from the original demarcations. Local disputes, however, continue, often over provincial boundaries that cut through municipalities or that separate border towns from nearby economic centers. According to Mokate, the current border disputes occur where communities did not have a strong say in the original process in the early 1990s. "Those people are now feeling much more empowered, much more organized, and are saying 'But how did this happen? I don't like this. Now I've got a government in power, I must tell them I don't want this.'"

As political nominees, the members of the CDDR could not cast aside their party affiliations and loyalties. Still, their common commitment to a unified South Africa allowed them to work beyond their interests to create viable provincial boundaries for the new South Africa. "Nobody got exactly what it is that they wanted, but the people, as a collective, pulled together to the extent that they could," Mokate said. "Even the people who disagreed with each other fundamentally, they still talked to each other.... They recognized each other as South Africans who participated in a process that contributed to building this country."

The CDDR's experience illustrates how careful consultation and negotiation can bring together factions with seemingly irreconcilable interests. The CDDR brought together individuals who represented the groups vying to control South Africa's post-apartheid map, but who were willing to find a common settlement. The commission's members remained behind the scenes, which allowed them to avoid public backlash for making concessions. This consensus was vital to ensuring South Africa's peaceful transition.

But the story of the CDDR also warns of the dangers of a map based heavily on political settlement at the expense of administrative considerations. Meyer, who was appointed minister of provincial affairs and constitutional development after the 1994 elections, said the negotiators did not focus enough on creating viable provincial administrations. "We failed ourselves by only doing this within the last period of time before the transition," he said. "I think we were so consumed, all of us, in our negotiations, in finding a constitutional settlement, that we didn't think about the bigger consequences of what we were doing about creating a new state."

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