Big changes proposed for public service in South Africa – what you need to know

Cabinet is considering the implementation of a framework geared toward the professionalisation of the entire public service, says Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The minister made the comment while responding to a question about the professionalisation of local government when she was submitting oral replies before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday.

She said the department was implementing various measures in this regard “to manage the interface between the professional administration and political leadership of municipalities”. The National School of Governance would administer these.

“These measures include regulations, the introduction of frameworks, as well as the deployment of technical and professional capacities, all of which will be enhanced by proposals related to the amendment.”

In June, Dlamini Zuma introduced regulations professionalising local government administration by establishing uniform norms and standards.

“They also include minimum qualification and competency criteria, which entails requirements for senior management such as tertiary qualifications, a minimum of five years management experience and certain critical leadership competencies, such as problem-solving.

“They also delineate roles and responsibilities for councillors and officials [which] was prohibiting councillors from participating in the recruitment and selection processes,” the minister told Members of Parliament (MPs).

To complement this, the minister said the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) worked with municipalities and deployed professionals to specific municipalities.

“These include registered engineers, planners, as well as energy, solid waste, water, sanitation, and roads and transport specialists who work and provide on-the-job training and support to municipal staff.

“Such support includes enrolling the youth, local community members and officials in the recognition of prior learning program, apprenticeship program, and young graduates program among other professional development programs.

“However, this support is far from being adequate because we are limited by resources at the disposal of MISA. Nonetheless, the participants are enabled to professionally register,” she said.

To address the issue of current measures not adequately addressing questionable appointments, the minister spoke of the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill. The bill prohibits all municipal officials from holding political office. The Bill also empowers MECs to take appropriate steps, which may include the application of declaratory order on the validity of appointments to enforce compliance.

“The Municipal Systems Amendment Bill is currently before the President and once assented to, will bolster our efforts towards meeting this objective. In the end, all governing political parties and other parties must also take responsibility for ensuring that all these are adhered to,” she said.

Improving capacity

Dlamini Zuma said the department was reviewing the capacity-building strategy for local government with a view to improving coordination of capacity, support, and better structuring initiatives across the sector.

“Each municipality will be bound to develop, adopt and implement a capacity development plan, which will be aligned to the Integrated Development Plan. Each plan will serve as a single capacity support agreement through which all stakeholders will channel support to the municipality,” she said.

She said the department would focus on designing generic capacity support programs and mobilising resources for implementation by municipalities.

“Through the District Development Model [DDM], we also intend mobilising other departments to come to the assistance of local government,” she told the NCOP.

The DDM is a comprehensive planning model for cooperative governance, which seeks to be a new, integrated, district-based service delivery approach aimed at fast-tracking service delivery.


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Big changes proposed for public service in South Africa – what you need to know