Research Note

Reforming procurement standards in order to effectively deliver public infrastructure: Rethinking the regulatory environment in post-pandemic South Africa

Jonathan Klaaren, Ron Watermeyer
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4465 | DOI: | © 2022 Jonathan Klaaren, Ron Watermeyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2021 | Published: 27 September 2022

About the author(s)

Jonathan Klaaren, Department of Law, Faculty of Commerce, Law, and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Ron Watermeyer, Department of Construction Economics and Management, Faculty of Engineering, University of the Witwaterand, South Africa


This research study identifies a specific layer of regulation within the governance regime which is a key factor impeding the procurement and delivery of public infrastructure in South Africa. We first identify current weaknesses of conflict and confusion at the level of soft law in the procurement and delivery of public infrastructure projects. Then we present a detailed case study of a successful South African megaproject (the procurement and delivery of the public infrastructure for two new universities, the New Universities Project) to demonstrate that these weaknesses can be avoided. The research note’s regulatory account focuses on the key element of quality in the South African public procurement regime, distinguishing that concept from the often conflated notion of value-for-money. We discuss how the problems identified could be addressed by means of changes to soft law prior to the finalisation of the current and ongoing public procurement legislative reform process.

Contribution: Through a case study of the on-time and with-budget public procurement and delivery of two new universities for South Africa, the article demonstrated that national policy on public infrastructure can be successfully implemented, with attention to the key soft law layer of regulation.


supply chain management; standards; public procurement; public management; regulation; soft law; value-for-money; megaprojects; public infrastructure


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