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Municipalities gear up to improve services

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara
A report compiled by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has identified shortcomings and proposed new ways for municipalities to carry out their duties. The report calls on municipalities to “urgently implement strategies that allow them to compete for business investment, retain talent and attract visitors”. Put together in collaboration with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the report recommends ways of putting effective systems and personnel in place to speed up service delivery.

Called ‘Making it happen – a roadmap for South African municipalities to achieve desired outcomes’, the report was based on 36 surveys completed by six district councils, 23 local and seven metropolitan municipalities in all nine provinces.

Achievements

Welcoming the report, SALGA boss Xolile George said, “All of us know that there are a number of achievements. Local government is quite stable in our system of government. Local government is implementing capital investment projects in terms of ensuring access to service for citizens. Citizens have so far been able to get services such as water, electricity and housing.”

The report focuses on how city and municipal managers in South Africa can best execute their municipality’s strategies and deliver their vision in this new era.

It sheds light on how municipal leaders can deliver their desired outcomes and how municipalities can overcome budget constraints while still developing and improving their local economies.

Local government

George thanked PwC for ensuring that SALGA became central in partnering with the auditing firm to identify some of the measurements PwC has looked at globally and for bench- marking to see whether the South African local government sector could compare with the rest of the world.

“Local government is executing a very difficult task of making sure that it lives up to the expectations of citizens. Our central mandate is to make sure that the South African system of local government is strengthened to be able to discharge its responsibilities properly,” he said.

George singled out the City of Johannesburg for its ground-breaking initiatives such as the Bus Rapid Transport system and improving the urban form of townships. He added that 90 per cent of the success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup was owing to the central role played by cities.

Global Cities and Local Government Net- work leader, Hazem Galal, said PwC would assist local government to create sustainable metropolitan, district and local municipalities. "Our engagement style is based on a strategic partnership in which we work with local government and its stakeholders to co-design, co-implement and sustain new ways of working to ensure that local government entities deliver on their core mandates,” he said.

Build capacity

"We assist local government to develop leaders to truly lead, deliver and manage within the local government context. They should also build capacity and manage talent to attract, develop and retain the right people; assess to determine limitations and internal shortcomings that prevent optimal service delivery and design transformation programmes to improve service delivery," Galal said.

He also encouraged municipalities to be- come competing societies by adopting a more collaborative role.

The study also discloses the barriers and difficulties cities and municipalities encounter in their efforts to build the capabilities they require to execute their strategies.

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) recently released the State of Municipal Capacity Report for 2010/11 which shows that

72 per cent of municipal posts were fi nationally the fi year. Limpopo had the highest vacancy rate, with only 61.5 per cent of it posts filled.

Filling vacant posts

MDB Chairperson Jackie Mahlangu said 76.4 per cent of posts in municipalities’ organograms were budgeted for, adding that it remained a challenge to fill posts in rural municipalities.

“Of the funded posts, where municipalities can afford to fi these posts, 32.5 per cent remain vacant. It is significant that almost one in three budgeted posts nationally are vacant,” he said.

Mahlangu added that work experience for Section 57 managers was consistently the lowest in the Free State.

Section 57 is a term commonly used for managers employed according to the requirements of Section 57 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act.

“Municipalities in the Western Cape have the most experienced municipal managers, chief financial officers and technical service managers. Gauteng has the most experienced corporate services and integrated development plan managers and North West, Gauteng and the Free State’s municipal managers are on average very new to their positions as compared to other provinces,” he said.