The transformation of local government has been one of the largest undertakings in the entire change process since the advent of democracy. Since the inception of the final phase in December 2000, significant progress has been made, but a lot of work still needs to be done to address the disparate practices and systems that prevail in local government as democracy mature.
The State of Local Government Report, 2009 indicated that various institutional and administrative challenges impacted on the ability of municipalities to effectively perform their functions and deliver on their various obligations.
In response to these and other challenges confronting municipalities, government developed a comprehensive intergovernmental response - the Local Government Turn-Around Strategy (LGTAS).
To give effect to the LGTAS the Portfolio identified priorities that, if achieved, may lead to a meaningful implementation of the strategy. As part of the turn-around agenda, the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act No. 32 of 2000 was amended during 2011 to professionalise local government to ensure fair, efficient and transparent municipal administration.
The other major objectives of the changes to the Systems Act were to:
create a career local public administration governed by the values and principles of public administration as enshrined in Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996;
create an enabling environment for increased staff mobility within local government by standardising human resource management practices;
improve the capacity of municipalities to perform their functions and improve service delivery by ensuring that municipalities recruit and retain suitably qualified persons - especially persons with scarce skills;
ensure predictability and maximise administrative and operational efficiency across municipalities
establish a coherent human resource governance regime that ensures adequate checks and balances.
While the development of a single set of Regulations for all categories of municipal employees would have been ideal, it has been decided to prioritise the development of Regulations for municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers.
These Regulations will deal with the duties; remuneration; benefits and other terms and conditions for senior managers in municipalities. Furthermore, they are an important milestone in the development of enforceable competence standards for senior managers and therefore a direct response to challenges in some municipalities where people are employed without the relevant skills, expertise and qualifications.
The amendment to the Systems Act also provides that a staff member dismissed for misconduct cannot be re-employed elsewhere for a certain period of time. In essence, the Act sets a moratorium on the reâ€employment of such staff by other municipalities. These Regulations, once finalised, will prescribe a period that a senior manager may not be employed in a municipality when found guilty of misconduct.
The draft Regulations are an endeavour to set uniform standards for staff establishments and for municipal staff systems and procedures. The organised local government, organised labour and various professional bodies were consulted in the process.
As these Regulations will address the weaknesses in recruitment; management and human resources, they will go a long way in professionalising the local government sector and achieve the vision espoused in the National Development Plan which is to attain a capable and developmental state.
The draft Regulations were published in Government Gazette Number 36223 and Notice Number 167 on 7 March 2013 for comments. The draft Regulations are also available on the website of the Department of Cooperative Governance.
Issued by: Department of Cooperative Governance