Monitoring and Evaluation Overview

In this article, we’ll look at the importance of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and cover various examples of its implementation in public management. We will also look at several examples within the South African context, including the government bodies and legislation that have been set up specifically for improving M&E.

After this article, you will have a far greater understanding of how monitoring and evaluation is used in the field of public management. You’ll also see how it directly affects the quality of the country’s public services. Should you choose to enter this field, you will work directly towards improving the lives and livelihoods of all South Africans. Wits offers an online postgraduate diploma in public management that specialises in M&E (PDMPM).

If you have a specific question about M&E’s meaning, please use the outlines below to find your answer. Otherwise please read on as we answer the question of what is monitoring and evaluation.


Wits offers a fully online Post Graduate Diploma in Public Administration specialising in Monitoring and Evaluation.

  • Duration: 18 months
  • Admission requirements: Bachelor’s degree plus two years of work experience
  • Course fees payable in instalments with financial assistance available
  • Course consists of eight modules

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Article outline




Public Management – Monitoring & Evaluation Overview


Monitoring and evaluation is an important part of public management. Although it was often neglected by governments in the past, it has become a critical part of the functioning of a democratic society. Monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of a project or public campaign allows managers to determine how successful it has been in achieving its desired goals.

Done correctly, this ensures efficient spending towards achieving whatever the desired outcomes are of a project, programme or policy intervention. Therefore monitoring and evaluation training is integral to effective service delivery. Neglecting any of the steps of monitoring and evaluation can be detrimental to the communities served by public management and governance officials.

Importance of monitoring and evaluation


As mentioned, without monitoring and evaluation, policymakers will not be able to tell if their policies are successful or not in achieving their desired outcomes.

By applying a process of monitoring and evaluation, organisations or governments are able to determine how successful a project or programme actually is. Failure to implement a monitoring and evaluation plan can result in a massive waste of money, time and effort.

Recognition of the importance of monitoring and evaluation has increased greatly among governments across the world over recent decades. The increased use of M&E has played a beneficial role in increasing the effectiveness of programmes and minimising wasteful public expenditure.

A stringent M&E process also leads to better transparency and accountability, which are increasingly sought-after within both democratic governments and the operations of non-governmental organisations.


Definition of monitoring


Monitoring is the act of observing a process, situation or thing. It also involves a further element of reporting back on what was observed. It is also synonymous with surveillance.

Examples of monitoring can be taken from many different fields. A weather station is one type of monitor that records and reports on weather conditions. A security camera used for surveillance observes an area and feeds that image back to a central control room or records the footage for future reference. United Nations election monitors are involved in monitoring of an entirely different kind, but they too fall under this definition.

As part of the monitoring and evaluation process, it is imperative that there is accurate collection of the appropriate information. In much the same way that a security camera blocked by a tree branch or that has been tilted to look skywards, renders a security system useless.

Within the context of the South African government’s M&E national framework, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation defines monitoring as follows: “Monitoring involves the continuous collecting, analysing and reporting of data in a way that supports effective management. Monitoring aims to provide managers with regular (and real-time) feedback on progress in implementation and results and early indicators of problems that need to be corrected. It usually reports on actual performance against what was planned or expected.”


Definition of evaluation


Evaluation forms the second part of the M&E process. It entails the analysis of the information that was gathered in the monitoring process. Evaluation also requires a set of criteria or parameters by which the information must be assessed. What those criteria are will be determined by the goals of that particular project, process or policy.

Simpler, more quantitative evaluation can be used to rank different things. For example, the 10 fastest athletes over 100m at an event could be ranked by evaluating race times. Property investors might instead evaluate property sales figures to work out which suburbs are experiencing the fastest growth in a city.

Qualitative evaluation can become far more complex. Qualitative analysis is by nature much more subjective and the criteria need to be very carefully set out. For example, it is unlikely that entertainment magazine lists of the best looking Hollywood celebrities would be the same. This would not be the case in sports magazine lists of the fastest athletes or highest scorers in a particular game.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation defines evaluation as follows: “The systematic collection and objective analysis of evidence on public policies, programmes, projects, functions and organisations to assess issues such as relevance, performance (effectiveness and efficiency), value for money, impact and sustainability, and recommend ways forward.”


Components of monitoring and evaluation frameworks


Any monitoring and evaluation framework needs to be specifically crafted so that it aligns with the broader M&E plan. There is no one-size-fits-all approach or template as each case will have its own specific goals, requirements and challenges. There are however certain elements that any good M&E plan includes.

The United Nations Public Administration Network developed a detailed guide on M&E in which it provides the following comprehensive list of what should be included in an M&E framework:

  • The objectives of the M&E plan
  • The criteria of successful interventions
  • What is to be monitored and evaluated
  • The activities needed to monitor and evaluate
  • Who is responsible for carrying out the monitoring and evaluation
  • When the different M&E activities will take place
  • What methods will be used
  • What resources are required and where they will be used
  • Relevant risks and assumptions when conducting M&E activities
  • Reporting tools and mechanisms to apply the results of M&E


Government’s policy framework – monitoring and evaluation system


South Africa has an entire government department dedicated to the planning, monitoring and evaluation of government policies and public management. This department is aptly named the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME). In 2019 the government published a revised National Policy Framework that sets out the requirements for government entities to implement effective and reliable monitoring and evaluation processes.

While there is a department dedicated to M&E, government entities are also subject to further M&E requirements. Through the application of a performance-based budgeting process, government entities are required to account for their expenditure and are allocated a budget based on their performance.

There are a number of laws that cover this, with the Public Finance Management Act applying to most government bodies, including national and provincial government structures. At the local government level, the Municipal Systems Act (MSA) requires that all municipalities monitor and evaluate their developmental performances and interventions.

Under the law, every municipality must implement a performance management system that contains key performance indicators “as a yardstick for measuring performance, including outcomes and impacts, with regard to the municipality’s development priorities and objectives”.


National Treasury’s framework


The Revised Framework for Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans was issued by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in 2020. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of local and national government departments, including the National Treasury.

The Treasury’s reporting responsibilities are laid out in table 8.3 (page 60) of the framework document. As the custodian of the country’s financial performance reporting system, the treasury is expected to establish systems for monitoring implementation of government budget allocations.

It is also expected to issue guidelines on preparing annual reports and carry out oversight of all reported information. As part of the oversight, it is expected to analyse government expenditure reports and provide feedback as well as to participate in structures to provide oversight of government performance information.

Lastly, the National Treasury has the responsibility to support government institutions to use monitoring findings during the budget process.


South African Statistics Quality Assurance Framework


Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) is responsible for gathering and compiling a plethora of statistical information about the country. Some of the better known surveys it carries out are the national census, quarterly labour force survey and the business confidence index.

In order to carry out its responsibilities effectively, it has formulated a set of standards, classifications and procedures that all government departments must apply when producing statistical data. These criteria and procedures for evaluating official statistics are contained in the South African Statistics Quality Assurance Framework (SASQAF).

The first edition of SASQAF was published in 2009, but it was difficult for data producers to apply SASQAF as it was originally intended. As a result, Stats SA developed the SASQAF operational standards and guidelines to assist data producers with producing data that meets the quality criteria.

Following extensive consultation and input from several stakeholders, a second edition of SASQAF was published in 2010. At the time of writing, this second edition stands as the official framework by which South African departments must provide and report on their statistical information.


Public Governments Evaluations Framework


Earlier we spoke of how the Revised Framework for Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans issued by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation relates to the National Treasury specifically. The framework builds on several previous policies, frameworks and plans set up by the government. Public management policy makers need to apply the revised framework’s principles when developing short and medium term plans.

The revised framework works in conjunction with the following older government frameworks related to planning, performance monitoring, reporting and evaluation within public management:

  • Policy Framework for the Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System, 2005
  • Framework for Managing Programme Performance Information, 2007
  • National Development Plan 2030: Our Future – Make it Work, 2012
  • Medium Term Strategic Framework
  • Budget Prioritisation Framework
  • National Evaluation Policy Framework, 2011
  • Spatial Development Frameworks
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
  • Agenda 2063
  • South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework, 2010
  • Standard for Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management, 2015
  • International Infrastructure Management Manual
  • National Immovable Asset Maintenance Management Standard, 2017

As you can see by the length of this list, government departments and policy makers need to consider myriad factors when developing plans. This places much responsibility for accountability on government departments and you can read more about what is a public sector agency’s role in M&E in a previous article.


What is the purpose of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)


As the name implies, the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) is responsible for public service and administration. More precisely, the DPSA’s goal, as stated by its strategic vision, is to ensure “a professional, productive and responsive public service and administration”.

As the national government’s public administration page explains, “the DPSA is at the centre of government”. It is responsible for ensuring that service delivery and government initiatives are responsive to the needs of citizens.

How it achieves this is detailed in both a constitutional and a legislative mandate, which we will get to shortly. More broadly, it has four key objectives as set out in its strategic mission statement.

  • Establish norms and standards to ensure that the state machinery functions optimally and that such norms and standards are adhered to.
  • Implement interventions to maintain a compliant and functioning public service.
  • Promote an ethical public service through programmes, systems, frameworks and structures that detect, prevent and combat corruption.
  • Contribute towards improved public administration in Africa and internationally through dialogue and sharing of best practices.


The DPSA constitutional and legislative mandate


The DPSA is governed by both the Constitution and specific legislature. As a result, its role and responsibility is governed by both a constitutional mandate and a legislative mandate. Put very simply, the constitutional mandate sets out how responsibilities should be carried out, while the legislative mandate provides the details of what responsibilities should be carried out.

The Constitution provides the basic values and principles to which the public service should adhere to, while the Public Service Act mandates that the department and the minister are responsible for establishing various norms and standards within the public service.


DPSA constitutional mandate


The Constitution requires that public management and administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including the following principles:

  • A high standard of professional ethics must be promoted and maintained.
  • Efficient, economic and effective use of resources must be promoted.
  • Public administration must be development–oriented.
  • Services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.
  • People’s needs must be responded to and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy making.
  • Public administration must be accountable.
  • Transparency must be fostered by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information.
  • Good human-resources management and career-development practices, to examine human potential, must be cultivated.
  • Public administration must be broadly representative of the South African people, with employment and personnel management practices based on ability, objectivity, fairness, and the need to redress the imbalances of the past to achieve broad representation.


DPSA legislative mandate


While the constitutional mandate sets out the values and principles, the legislative mandate goes into more detail on what the department is actually responsible for.

As set out in the Public Service Act of 1994, the minister and the department are responsible for establishing norms and standards relating to:

  • The functions of the public service
  • Organisational structures and establishments of departments and other organisational and governance arrangements in the public service
  • Labour relations, conditions of service and other employment practices for employees
  • The Health and wellness of employees; information management
  • Electronic government in the public service
  • Integrity, ethics, conduct and anti-corruption
  • Transformation, reform, innovation and any other matter to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the public service and its service delivery to the public


The DPSA role in monitoring and evaluation


In a 2011 presentation of the monitoring and evaluation framework for the public service, the DPSA outlined the importance of M&E, the progress that had been achieved thus far, and its own role in the process.

The DPSA has a specific focus on the public service, meaning that its role in monitoring and evaluation is centred around this aspect of government. Although the DPSA is responsible for public services in the country and relies extensively on M&E in its operations, there is another government department responsible for M&E.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (previously the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation) reports directly to the Office of the Presidency. It has been tasked with the mandate to “coordinate government planning, monitoring and evaluation to address poverty, unemployment and inequality”.


Public expenditure and performance-based budgeting


Globally, performance-based budgeting has been strongly advocated and supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As part of that advocacy, the OECD has developed a guide for performance budgeting.

In that guide, the OECD noted the rationale of performance-based budgeting as “part of efforts to improve decision making by moving the focus away from inputs (‘how much money will I get?’) towards measurable results (‘what can I achieve with this money?’).

It also notes that performance budgeting is intended to improve public sector efficiency and performance. Through performance-based budgeting, governments are able to assess whether or not public expenditure is being correctly allocated and ensure that money is not wasted on ineffective programmes or projects.

The OECD is an intergovernmental organisation made up of 38 countries with some of the largest economies in the world. Although South Africa is not a full member of the OECD, the country was made one of five key partners in 2007.


Government budgets and their contents


Governments need to work within a budget in their provision of services. This applies to national, provincial and local government. As with any budget, income needs to be balanced against the planned expenditure.

The South African Parliament has produced a comprehensive budget manual in which it outlines the various components that go into the annual budget.

At the level of national government, the national budget is detailed in several official documents, which are are: the Budget Speech, Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE), Division of Revenue Bill, the Budget Review, the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) and the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.


SA government budget documents


The Budget Speech is delivered by the finance minister in February of each year, just ahead of the new financial year in which that budget will apply. You can view the 2022 Budget Speech here.

The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) sets out planned government spending over the next three years. It gives a comprehensive breakdown of priorities, spending plans and service delivery commitments across all spheres of government. You can view the full 2022 ENE here.

The Division of Revenue Bill is published each year to show how government revenue is allocated across the country’s various government departments as well as how it is shared between the provinces and municipalities. You can view the 2022 Division of Revenue Bill here.

The Budget Review document covers the policy context of the budget. It highlights economic policy, fiscal policy, tax policy, division of revenue and medium-term priorities. You can view the 2022 Budget Review here.

To see examples of all the different Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRRs) for different spheres of government, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group has a comprehensive list of all BRRRs from 2021 back. To read more about how these are put together, you can read the PMG’s BRRR explainer page.


The sources of government funds or revenue


The most obvious source of government revenue is through tax, in its various forms. However government revenues refer to all receipts the government gets, including taxes, custom duties, revenue from state-owned enterprises, capital revenues and foreign aid.

According to an OECD report in 2017, on average 60% of the revenues raised by governments across OECD countries came from taxes and 25% from net social contributions, another 8% came from sales and 7% from grants and other revenues.

For a comprehensive list of all the different taxes charged by the South African Revenue Services, you can look at this page on its website explaining how it collects taxes for the National Revenue Fund.


Raising national, provincial and municipal revenue


The most common way to increase government revenue is through the raising of taxes. This can be done at several different levels, with annual adjustments to income tax level brackets for example.

A few years ago, in April 2018, the government also increased the rate for VAT (value added tax) from 14% to 15%. At the time, the finance minister was reported to have said that this increase, together with income tax increases, would earn the fiscus an additional R36-billion per year.

At the local government level, the primary way that municipalities can increase revenue is through property taxes, rates and municipal service charges. These charges usually include water and refuse collection. In some cases, municipalities also charge for provision of electricity.

International ratings agency Moody’s provides a monthly update on revenue and expenditure by South Africa and other national governments.


Budget policy statement


In South Africa we do not have an official budget policy statement, however the term is sometimes used in reference to the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. Also sometimes referred to as the mid-term budget policy statement, this statement is presented by the finance minister about three months before the Budget Speech.

It differs from the annual budget in that it focuses on a longer time frame of three years rather than just one year. It provides a broader view of the government’s policy and goals. It also attempts to forecast what spending and revenue will be as well as how the broader global macroeconomic situation is likely to change.




Here are answers to many common questions about the fields of public management and administration and monitoring and evaluation.


What are monitoring and evaluation frameworks


A monitoring and evaluation framework is a crucial part of the wider M&E plan. Monitoring and evaluation frameworks are used to assess how well an M&E plan is succeeding in achieving its goals.

An M&E framework must be carefully thought out so that it properly aligns with the goals of the plan. Any good M&E framework should clearly define the plan’s goal and the steps that need to be taken to get to that goal.

The framework needs to provide a clear understanding of how different factors within the monitoring and evaluation plan relate to one another and how the overall plan will be carried out. It should also have predefined indicators that mark progress over the course of the plan, which we describe in more detail further down.

You can read also about how to set up an M&E plan, which we covered in a previous article.


What qualification do you need for monitoring and evaluation?


Monitoring and evaluation is not a regulated profession and there isn’t a specific route that needs to be taken. That said, you are likely to require at least a bachelor’s degree to obtain a job in the field, along with work experience in public management.

Generally however, you are likely to need a postgraduate qualification to qualify for most M&E jobs, especially lage international organisations such as the United Nations or World Bank. Economics, political or social sciences and quantitative or statistical analysis are common degrees for entering this field.

If you want to study a monitoring and evaluation course in South Africa, the Wits online Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is one way that you can build on your existing bachelor’s degree and work experience to qualify for more senior roles.


Can I study and work while doing monitoring and evaluation?


Yes, you certainly can. Whether working in monitoring and evaluation, or studying monitoring and evaluation, study and work is possible with a flexible online programme.

Much like all the programmes offered by Wits Online, the Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management in the field of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) programme was designed specifically to give working professionals the flexibility to carry out their studies while they continue with their full-time jobs.


What are key indicators in monitoring and evaluation?


Key indicators are used to mark progress or milestones within an M&E plan. The key indicators of any monitoring and evaluation plan will depend on the project or programme’s objectives.

Indicators for a monitoring and evaluation plan need to be measurable and should be directly related to the plan’s objectives. To be able to measure the impact of an intervention, baseline indicators need to be recorded at the start of a programme so that progress can be matched against that baseline.

There are two types of indicators used in M&E plans, trigger indicators that activate a change in operations and process indicators, which we explain in more detail below on the process indicator FAQ.


How do you develop indicators for monitoring and evaluation?


When setting up an M&E plan and M&E framework, very careful thought needs to go into the selection of key indicators that can be accurately measured and that will accurately reflect the progress of a programme or project.

When developing an M&E plan’s indicators, it is important to receive input from all those directly involved in the project. This provides a greater understanding of expectations, from the staff on the ground through to those assessing results and accounting for expenditure.


What is a process indicator in monitoring and evaluation


A process indicator is an indicator that is used to assess a task, project or programme’s progress in achieving its objectives. Process indicators are used by the management of an organisation to evaluate how well a specific objective is being achieved.

Through using process indicators, managers can objectively compare different projects or programmes to determine which are the most efficient.


What are the techniques of monitoring and evaluation?


There are three main techniques or approaches for monitoring and evaluation. These approaches reflect changes in thinking and the evolution of the field of monitoring and evaluation to respond to changing societal needs and expectations.


Results-oriented approach

The first of these is the results-oriented approach to monitoring and evaluation. This is the oldest and most traditional approach to M&E. A results-oriented approach entails measuring how well a project or plan has succeeded in achieving its objectives.


Constructivist approach

In their 1989 book Fourth Generation Evaluation, authors Egon Guba and Yvonna Lincoln built upon the results-orientated approach to M&E. They saw the strictly results-oriented approach as limited as it ignored other human, political, social and cultural factors.

Instead, they proposed a constructivist approach to monitoring and evaluation that considers these other factors and looks at the dynamics between the plan’s evaluators and its stakeholders. Guba and Lincoln argued that the constructivist approach promotes the empowerment of stakeholders and a collective learning process.


Reflexive approach

The latest popular technique or approach to monitoring and evaluation is a reflexive approach. Jan-Peter Voß, Dierk Bauknecht and René Kemp proposed this method in 2006. It has gained attention from academics and policymakers for its adaptive nature and ability to look at problems from a broader perspective. Where a results-oriented approach looks at results after they’ve happened, the reflexive approach uses real-time M&E and allows for plans to adjust as things evolve.

These are the three broad techniques for setting up an M&E plan, but any single M&E plan might make use of various different techniques for both the monitoring stage and the evaluation stage of the process. This is covered in more detail in our previous article where we talk about monitoring and evaluation methods.


What is a performance budget in public finance?


A performance budget goes beyond merely balancing revenue and expenditure. Performance budgets are common in public finance as they reduce wasteful expenditure and allocate resources to where it best meets the government’s service delivery goals.

Performance-based budgeting uses monitoring and evaluation to measure performance and progress and then allocate resources to those operations that have the best performance.

South Africa uses performance-based budgeting with the goal of improving efficiency by allocating resources to where they are most effective in achieving the desired outcomes.


What is the basis of a performance-based budget?


The fundamental basis of a performance-based budget is to improve efficiency and allocate the available resources to get the best results. Put simply, to get the most bang for the buck.

In commercial enterprise, performance is mostly related to profit and earnings growth. Performance in public finance entails a host of public service goals, from providing education and health care to maintaining roads and air quality.


How are public sector budgets used for performance evaluation?


Public sector budgets are used in performance evaluation as they provide a comprehensive breakdown of how much was spent and on what it was spent for that year. Performance-based budgeting allocates available budget to where it will be spent the most effectively.

Public sector budgets are used to provide evaluators with the financial information that they would need to look at when comparing the performance of public projects against what they cost to carry out.


Who does the PFMA apply to?


Under chapter 1, section 3 of the Public Finance Management Act it says that the Act applies to all government departments, public entities (as listed by two separate sections), constitutional institutions and the provincial legislatures.

Notably, the PFMA does not apply to municipal and local government, which is governed by the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act.


What is the purpose of the PFMA?


The stated objective of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) is covered in chapter 1, section 2 of the Public Finance Management Act.

According to the wording of the legislature, the purpose of the PFMA is to “secure transparency, accountability, and sound management of the revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities of the institutions to which this Act applies”.


How does budgeting affect the performance of the government?


While a government’s performance can be affected by many internal and external factors, a well-managed public finance budget will go a long way towards supporting good government performance. Monitoring and evaluation of all government operations is used in performance-based budgets, which seek the maximum performance from the resources available.

When a government or government department has access to a larger budget, it is able to do far more and should be more effective than with a smaller budget. This can create something of a feedback loop when performance-based budgeting is applied. This is because performance-based budgeting allocates a great share of funds to areas that perform the best. Therefore a government programme that is already performing well may find itself with additional resources to further improve performance. Conversely, a poorly performing programme may find itself with even less budget the following year, further reducing its effectiveness.

While this can be effective for a commercial enterprise, performance is not the sole factor in allocating public funds. Government budgets also need to consider the needs of the public. It can often be the case that failed projects result in even greater need and even greater budget allocations to address that need. In South Africa, Eskom and SAA are two examples of poorly performing state-owned entities that have required larger and larger budgets to maintain their operations.


Why is performance budgeting important


Performance budgeting ensures that money is not wasted. Within public finance, this also aims to provide a safeguard against corruption and other wasteful state expenditure.

Performance-based budgeting increases efficiency and also promotes accountability within departments or organisations. South Africa uses performance budgeting in its allocation of funds to departments and in its public management policies and programmes.

In a parliamentary handbook published in May 2021, The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the role of Parliament in the Oversight of the Budget, it says the four objectives of the budget are to achieve fiscal sustainability, allocative efficiency, value for money and service delivery. Performance-based budgeting is used to optimally achieve all four of those goals.


How do you prepare a performance budget


Preparing a performance budget requires measurable indicators that mark the progress towards the desired outcome.

M&E plays a core role in the preparation and maintenance of a performance budget. As with any budget, income and expenses need to be balanced.

These indicators then provide a means to measurably compare the performance between different operations or projects. Of course not all operations can be measured by the same indicators.


What are the functions of the National Revenue Fund


All money collected by the state through taxes, duties and levies is paid into the National Revenue Fund. The South African Revenue Service (Sars) also collects money on behalf of other departments, which is then paid into the National Revenue Fund.

Chapter 2 of the Public Finance Management Act goes into greater detail on the National Revenue Fund and the responsibilities that the National Treasury has as the custodian of the fund.

As stated in Chapter 2 of the PFMA: “The National Treasury must establish appropriate and effective cash management and banking arrangements for the National Revenue Fund.” The Treasury is also expected to ensure that there is always enough money in the National Revenue Fund to cover all expected costs.


What are the conditions before funds can be withdrawn from the National Revenue Fund?


The rules relating to the management of South Africa’s National Revenue Fund are detailed in chapter 13 of the Constitution.

In the section covering the National Revenue Fund, the constitution states that: “Money may be withdrawn from the National Revenue Fund only (a) in terms of an appropriation by an Act of Parliament; or (b) as a direct charge against the National Revenue Fund.”

The more recent Public Finance Management Act goes into further details on the National Revenue Fund, with part 2 of chapter 2 covering the details related to deposits and withdrawals, withdrawal of exclusions and the use of funds in emergency situations.

Under the PFMA, Sars can withdraw funds under the following conditions:

  • To refund any tax, levy or duty credits or any other charges in connection with taxes, levies or duties.
  • To make other refunds approved by the National Treasury.
  • To transfer to a member of the South African Customs Union any money collected on its behalf.

The National Treasury is also expected to transfer all funds collected on behalf of provincial governments into each province’s Provincial Revenue Fund.


Who manages South Africa’s finances?


The responsibility of managing South Africa’s finances falls mostly under the National Treasury. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) also plays an important role in managing the country’s finances, but its role is more focused on the value of the rand and interest rates.

So while the SARB plays a large role, it has a broader economic focus. The National Treasury has a more direct role on the country’s finances, being in charge of things like the annual budget which determines financial revenue and expenditure.

The National Treasury is headed by the minister of finance, which sets the role apart from most other ministers that head a specific department. In a sense, it could be said that the national treasury fulfils the role that the (non-existent) department of finance would play.