Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Des van Rooyen has emphasised the importance of municipal managers in a democratic South Africa.
According to Van Rooyen, municipal managers are at the coal-face of service delivery, and there should be collaboration and sharing of best practices across the country and on the continent.
This crosspollination of knowledge and ideas will help ensure that South Africa has professionals who understand that municipalities are seized with an ongoing project of reshaping the municipal landscape to ensure economic emancipation for communities, explained the minister.
Through the Back to Basics Programme, CoGTA has committed to building resilient institutional systems by ensuring that municipalities appoint suitably qualified and competent municipal managers and senior managers.
This programme has also shown that the municipal managers play a vital role in the effective functioning of municipalities.
When there is instability or dysfunctionality in the municipal manager’s position, the municipality has difficulty implementing and achieving the set targets of delivering the services to communities, said Van Rooyen.
CoGTA and the National Treasury are already collaborating towards the alignment of regulations on minimum competency requirements for senior managers in municipalities.
The department will finalise and publish the regulations setting out uniform standards for staff below senior managers, for public comment, in fulfilment of government’s commitment to build resilient institutions. These regulations also prescribe the minimum competency requirements for all municipal officials.
CoGTA believes that professionalisation will go some way to restoring the prestige and office of Municipal Managers.
“It is high time that a professional statutory body representing municipal managers be tasked to look after the interests of the profession and to uphold professional ethics, values, code of conduct and the enforcement of adherence to these interests,” said Van Rooyen.
This was in response to the decision by the Institute of South African Municipal Accounting Officers to create a statutory council for municipal managers that looks after the profession.
Municipal managers and upcoming elections
The minister reminded municipal managers that their role during the election period is even more vital because they have to hold the fort as councillors’ change and ensure that service delivery still takes place.
“We look forward to building a new and improved cadre of municipal managers that will restore the dignity and decorum of the profession.” said Van Rooyen.