Moratorium on municipal positions a possible answer to qualification crisis – NWU expert
On Wednesday, 19 September 2018, the Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene revealed in parliament that more than half of South Africa’s municipal managers and chief financial officers (CFOs) do not have the minimum qualifications as required by legislation.
During the parliamentary session, Nene said that only 94 of the 193 accounting officers meet the minimum competency level, and only 79 of the 218 CFOs meet the requirements. According to Kagiso Pooe, a public policy specialist and lecturer at the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Vanderbijlpark, this is not a new revelation, since Pravin Gordhan made mention of this crisis in 2013. The problem itself can be traced back to as early as 1994.
“What was supposed to be a sign of goodwill to say listen, lets get into government and although a lot of people did not have the necessary qualifications back then, time was given to allow them to find their footing while expanding their skills repertoire,” explains Kagiso. He continues to explain that the system ended up being abused and people go for positions of power knowing they don’t have the requisite skills.
“The fact of the matter is that people have found it easier to settle into the system without qualifications,” says Kagiso and adds that there is relevant legislation in place which stipulates that if you work as a municipal manager or in the finance department, a minimum qualification is needed as proof of competency. The problem is, according to Kagiso, that this legislation has not been enforced.
Comments on the proposed 18 months turn-around intervention
Kagiso is of the opinion by promulgating an amendment to the municipal minimum competency regulations to allow all officials 18 months from the date of appointment to obtain the relevant competency levels is not a plausible intervention.
He (Kagiso) proposes that a moratorium should be placed on all municipal positions leading up the next election cycle in 2023. Simply put, this will give office bearers enough time to acquire the necessary skills development training and at the same time send a clear message that if you do not meet the minimum requirements, you will not be absorbed back into the system.
Another possible intervention to address the high vacancy rate and high levels of staff turnover within the municipality sector will be, according to Kagiso, to relook the necessity of the country’s 257 municipalities. “Do we really need so many municipalities? And if so, would it not make business and operational sense to combine municipalities for the sake of efficiency?” asks Kagiso.