27 June 2016
Programme Director, Mr Zolile Williams
Deputy Minister of DPSA, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo
Honourable Premier David Makhura
ISAMAO Chairman, Dan Gorbachev Mashitisho
SALGA Deputy Chair, Mpho Nawa,
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
It is said, that there is a Chinese curse that declares,
“May you live in interesting times.”
South Africa is certainly not a country beset by uninteresting times.
If you expected the birth of democracy in 1994 would signal an overnight return to normality, you must be sorely disappointed.
Overcoming over 300 years of colonialism and almost 50 years of apartheid, will certainly take more than a generation.
There is no doubt that anti-transformation forces will do their best to maintain the status quo of privilege and economic power.
As Municipal Managers at the coal-face of delivery I am sure that this is a struggle you experience on a daily basis.
Whether it takes the form of inherited staff who want to impede the democratic process, or various other stakeholders who want to hold onto their positions of advantage.
Suffice to say that we fully understand your predicament as you set about reshaping the municipal landscape.
So, today, it is my honour to address you.
The initiative in 2013 that led to the formation of the Institute of South African Municipal Accounting Officers (ISAMAO) is indeed admirable.
We certainly support your Mission to:
“Develop and maintain a system of standards, norms and procedures that will inculcate professionalism among Municipal Accounting Officers thereby enhancing quality service delivery to communities.”
We cannot agree with you more fully.
Results from our Back to Basics programme has also shown that Municipal Managers (MMs) play a vital role in the effective functioning of municipalities.
Where there is instability or dysfunctionality in the Municipal Manager’s position, the municipality has difficulty in implementing and achieving the B2B targets.
Our system of local government needs a committed workforce with the necessary intellectual capacity and experience to help deliver basic services to our communities.
We need professionals who would secure support for public programmes, deepen democracy and accountability and improve service delivery to our communities.
Government launched the Back to Basics Programme, committing itself to build resilient institutional systems by ensuring that municipalities appoint suitably qualified and competent municipal managers and senior managers.
To professionalize local government, all municipalities are required to enforce competency standards for senior managers and appoint persons with the requisite skills, expertise and qualifications.
Senior managers are prohibited from holding political offices in political parties.
Cogta together with the National Treasury are collaborating towards alignment of regulations on minimum competency requirements for senior managers in municipalities.
We intend to 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,
This is critical for ensuring that municipalities build the requisite capacity to meet their service delivery obligations by ensuring that suitably qualified and competent persons are appointed.
We urge ISAMAO to collaborate with our technical team in finalising this important piece of legislation.
We acknowledge the good work that you are doing and the right to be remunerated accordingly.
The Department is reviewing the Notice on Total Remuneration Packages for senior Managers for 2016/17 financial year.
Engagements have been held with key stakeholders on the review of factors determining the categories of municipalities and the modelling of rural municipalities.
We urge ISAMAO to continue its collaboration with our technical team in finalising the Notice.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are serious about cutting our corruption in our municipalities.
A database for staff dismissed for misconduct and who resigned prior to finalization of disciplinary proceedings has been developed.
The intention is to ensure that staff members dismissed for serious misconduct may not be re-employed by another municipality before the expiry of the prescribed period.
Senior managers who enter into an employment contract with the municipalities are required to declare their benefits and interests.
Failure to disclose benefits and interests is a breach of contract and is dealt with in terms of the Code of Conduct for Municipal Staff.
This is provided for in the Municipal Systems Act and the Disciplinary Regulations.
We are also aware that there are many former MMs who can contribute to enhancing the local government sector.
The Department has developed a database of skilled professionals/ former municipal managers and section 56 managers to be seconded to municipalities as and when they are required.
We support the idea brought by ISAMAO to create a statutory council for municipal managers’ that looks after the profession 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.
We believe this will go some way to restoring the prestige and office of Municipal Managers.
Cogta has met the ISAMAO delegation to discuss matters of common interest and it was resolved in the meeting that ISAMAO submits a Draft Profession of Municipal Accounting Officers Bill for submission to Parliament.
The Draft Profession of Municipal Accounting Officers Bill will provide for the establishment of a Municipal Accounting Officers’ Council.
The Council will consist of 11 members appointed by the Minister.
The membership and qualifications of members of Council will also have to be determined.
We further support the self-regulation by ISAMAO, and the draft progression of Municipal Accountability Officers Bill shall be presented to MINEXCO Policy Forum further deliberation and decision.
I do know that you have other concerns such as the appointment of fixed-term contracts for MMs.
As you have indicated the need for stability in the position of Municipal Manager is vital.
We do support the moves by ISAMAO.
These concerns should be addressed through the proper channels.
This is certainly an exciting time for the local government sector.
In just over a month from now South Africa holds the local government elections on 3rd August 2016.
Let me add we are monitoring the contracts of municipal managers to ensure that they do not face any persecution or prohibition before, during and after the elections.
We are not without challenges and these have intensified over the past few weeks.
Certainly we will take these in our stride.
We expect this to increase in the run-up to the elections as various role-players jostle for advantage.
As head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Elections, let me add that it is all systems go.
Government is working as a coherent unit in the planning and preparation for the elections.
The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) is operational and meets on a daily basis to assess developments in the country.
We are ready to act if need be.
We believe that there is a conducive environment for the holding of free and fair elections.
As Municipal Managers your role during the election period is even more vital.
Municipal Managers are responsible for holding down the fort as councillors change.
Your role in ensuring that service delivery still takes place, is therefore very important.
Let me remind you that MMs are responsible for calling the very first Council meeting, after the elections.
We thank you for your efforts.
We acknowledge the complex and vital role that you play in bridging the administrative, political and strategic interface.
We look forward to building a new and improved cadre of Municipal Manager that will restore the dignity and decorum of the profession.
I wish ISAMAO success in the conference and their efforts in playing their role in building a stronger sphere of local government.
I thank you.