In this audio recording, Dr Temba Masilela from HSRC shares his perspectives on the problem of ‘evidence-based policy-making’ speaking about policy processes in South Africa. Having worked as a policy advisor and journalist and prior to this been an exile in Kenya, Temba speaks about how we should approach policy not just in terms of research, but as a narrative; it needs to be contextualised.
Taking an example of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, he asks what are the issues and imperatives underlying what happened – migration, crime, poverty, competition for resources? People see different narratives and framings and we need to analyse policy based on this.
Temba outlines a definition of the public policy process: “it’s a narrative about the authoritative allocation of values and resources”. It’s a narrative because it’s a story with many questions and answers:
- It has particular context, actors, relationships, plot and perspectives
- It is a story about why, who benefits, how should it be done, who bears the consequences and costs?
- It has an ending, happy or sad
- It is interactive, iterative and about engagement
- It has a history to it, a present and a future
- It requires some suspension of disbelief as well as trust that it is beneficial and will result in desired outcome