Witness Reporter
2 minute read
26 Jul 2022

Our Viewpoint | Acting managers

Witness Reporter

Too many vacancies in municipal manager posts means service delivery is compromised.

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Leaders across all spheres of government often go on about how municipalities are at the coal face of service delivery and should be well capacitated, in terms of skills and leadership, to better serve communities.

However, the reality is that most municipalities are plagued with a high vacancy rate where even critical positions are occupied by acting incumbents.

ALSO READ: KZN’s municipal managers

Yesterday, we reported on 20 of the 54 KwaZulu-Natal municipalities that have vacant municipal managers’ positions.

This means other senior officials have had to leave their jobs to act as municipal managers, just like the chief financial officer, Nelisiwe Ngcobo, has had to do in Msunduzi.

It is not even clear when the City will actually appoint Madoda Khathide’s replacement following his April departure from Msunduzi.

Some KZN municipalities saw a mass resignation/purge of senior managers following the change of leadership after the November 2021 municipal polls.

Many of the officials who were quite capable of doing their jobs were frustrated out of their positions to make way for those who are aligned to the new municipal leadership.

Having acting incumbents in senior positions is tantamount to financial suicide because it not only weakens the internal systems of control but also creates a ripple effect of non-accountability because there are always several people acting at any given time.

It also severely compromises service delivery because no acting senior official is going to commit to long-term plans, and councils can’t force them to sign performance management agreements.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as well as the watchdog authority over municipalities, the SA Local Government Association, need to start doing more than just “urge” and “encourage” councils to fill senior vacant posts.

They must start imposing harsh penalties. That could go a long way towards addressing the chaos that stems from prioritising cadre deployments over competency.