Quarter of top Gauteng municipal managers do not have minimum requirements for their jobs

Report reveals only 58% of supply chain managers have stipulated competencies

The report shows that only 58% of supply chain managers have the required minimum competencies for their jobs.
The report shows that only 58% of supply chain managers have the required minimum competencies for their jobs.
Image: 123RF.COM

More than a quarter of the Gauteng municipality's top management do not have the minimum requirements for the positions they hold.

As at March 2020, of the 110 senior managers, only 80 were compliant, the co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) report of the independent committee of inquiry revealed.

The report also shows only 58% of supply chain managers have the required minimum competencies for their jobs.

The Municipal Systems Act defines the minimum competencies required for appointments in municipalities in areas of financial management, strategic planning, leadership and governance, but is lacking in defining the requirements for technical areas such as engineering.

This comes as the latest auditor-general (AG) reports revealed Gauteng municipalities incurred irregular expenditure increasing from R3.2bn to R4.6bn mainly due to the prior year's contracts.

The AG report said municipalities in Gauteng owe Eskom more than R3.3bn in unpaid debt and water boards close to R1bn.

These were some of the findings contained in a report of the independent committee of inquiry commissioned by Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile in August 2019.

“In a province such as Gauteng, with a higher skills base than found in the rest of the country, it is expected all senior managers should, together with their own individual qualifications, at least meet minimum competency requirements upon appointment or within 18 months.”

The report states an organisational structure of a municipality has an impact on the efficacy of the execution of its service delivery functions.

“Inadequate municipal systems and the inappropriate placement of human resources can negatively affect service delivery. The number of vacancies, especially in key service delivery positions, often provides a composite perspective on the capacity challenge that confronts each municipality.”

The report states that the cost of unskilled or incorrectly placed personnel can significantly affect a municipality’s ability to deliver services.

“The committee notes with alarm the regression in the total number of senior officials in the local and district municipalities who  meet the minimum competency requirements. As at March 2020, of the 110 senior managers, only 80 were compliant,” it reads.

The report states local municipalities are unable to attract the requisite skills given the salary packages on offer at metropolitan municipalities and in the private sector.

“This impacts the quality of services being delivered by local municipalities. Where local municipalities have developed skills within their administration, these qualified officials are frequently enticed to move to metropolitan municipalities by better remuneration packages.”

The inability to attract professionals such as chartered accountants and practising engineers has impacted the strategic capacity of municipalities.

The report states a core function of municipalities is to deliver infrastructural services.

It further states there has been a loss of primary technical skills such as suitably qualified or experienced plumbers, electricians, and artisans at smaller municipalities to either the private sector or  larger municipalities.

A specific skill that is fast disappearing from municipalities is accounting, the report states.

“The inability to attract professionals such as chartered accountants and practising engineers has impacted the strategic capacity of municipalities. The remuneration of these professionals is regarded as being beyond the rates prescribed for public service.”

The report also attributed the problem of staffing to coalition governments in the metropolitan municipalities, stating they had a negative impact on the length of time and the quality of appointment of senior personnel.

As an example, the report states the appointment of senior and top management requires council approval “and such approval was not obtained in Tshwane as council meetings were interrupted or not quorate”.

In Johannesburg, the vacancy rate for top management is 29% and senior management 10%.

In Tshwane, the overall vacancy rate is 26%, largely the effect of political instability.

In Johannesburg, the vacancy rate for the rest of the categories of employees was 6% during the 2020 year.

The excessive unplanned power outages in Ekurhuleni are linked to the 33% vacancy rate in the electrical department, which is further exacerbated by the limitation of overtime hours permitted.

The committee recommended that Cogta strengthens its oversight and analysis of skills audits at all municipalities to provide support on strategic appointments that will strengthen the capacity of municipalities to deliver services.

“The number of senior managers who do not meet the minimum competency requirements (MCR) should be addressed by Cogta and the National Treasury.

“Those managers already appointed since the detection of this irregularity should be granted a period of time within which to achieve the MCR.”

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