Written by Life Mokone – Having read the document as circulated through various chain messaging, one was hoping that the document was released prematurely. It seemed to me that the document probably is the first draft.
This was because it was difficult to believe that such a document could’ve been signed off by the national leadership. It was until I saw it as an attachment by the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC, Comrade Jessie Duarte that I was dumbfounded.
There are few reasons why it was difficult to immediately believe that the criteria is certifiable or final. The reasons are deliberated upon hereunto:
The selection of the opening quotation by the Mayor of New Orleans is interesting. In the context of a country where young people are decrying decolonisation, we look up to a Mayor of New Orleans for a special motivation. South Africa has produced many of the best Mayors between 1994 to 2021, could we not find one or two with a strong reverence to strengthen our resolve? Anyway, let me beg for indulgence from the readers, that my point is of no decree.
For a Mayoral position, the ANC demands that candidates must possess the following qualifications and attributes:
A tertiary level qualification or equivalent. This is equal to what the ANC is requesting for Members of Mayoral Committees. The question is, why? A person serving in the Mayoral Committee is likely to act in the position of Municipal Mayor from time to time as may be required and in terms of Municipal Structures Act.
This obviously may exclude the provisions of section 60, that requires that if the executive mayor vacates office, the mayoral committee appointed by that executive mayor who resigned or removed be dissolved. Be that as it may, because the ANC is serious about the turn-around of the South African Local Government, will be anxious when the drafters submit the criteria that is obviously inconsistent.
South African Local Government Association recently bemoaned that a whopping 62% of councillors do not have computer skills. Leader of SALGA and the leader of the SACP in Free State, Cde Bheki Stofile, went on to say some councillors cannot use a computer at all. They could’ve been of value to the ANC in developing a watertight criteria.
Similarly, leaders in our organisation should be anxious when the drafters suggest a criteria lower to that of administrators. For example, Ngwathe Municipality requires a B Degree, preferably in Public or Business Administration, Political Sciences, Social Sciences, Law or other relevant tertiary qualification for Municipal Managers.
They also submit that a post graduate or relevant NQF Level 7 qualification will be a strong recommendation. It is understandable that certificates do not always guarantee results, because “people do not always do what they learnt” after all. So consideration can always be made to accommodate people who learnt certain things before doing them and the things learnt by doing.
However, the requirements stated above cannot be less for the person in the position of Executive Authority.
The requirements lack the essence proportionate to the gravity of a job. This is because in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, the expectation from Mayors are almost the same if not all, service delivery targets are common, reporting channels and accountability are almost the same.
We must applaud the ANC that at least 5 years of local government experience or experience at any other level of government or public institution, or leadership at executive level in any other non-governmental institution is required.
This is important for continuity and consistency in terms of maintenance of good governance. The situation like that of Mangaung, where service delivery terribly collapsed when the former Executive Mayor, Cde Thabo Manyoni left the position could’ve been averted.
For metropolitan municipality mayors, the candidate must have leadership experience in a public or private sector organization with more than 100 employees. This requirement is totally in line with the expectation of many successful corporations in the world.
The exposure to strategic planning, performance management and labour relations, is one aspect that the ANC has neglected for many years. In some instances, many leaders of the ANC failed to align organisational resolutions and manifesto with government objectives and targets.
This aspect is consistent with section 197(1) of the Constitution of South Africa; that “within public administration there is a public service for the Republic, which must function, and be structured, in terms of national legislation, and which must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day.” Half the time, public servants aren’t ushered towards this understanding due to weaknesses in political leadership. This fact is contained in many reports released by Auditor General South Africa.
This is the same with an organisation with at least 50 employees, this aspect of the criteria is equally welcomed.
A track record of discipline, no evidence of a criminal record or evidence of maladministration. A good form of precedence is hereby established and therefore, commended.
Some municipalities have more budgets than some provincial departments, the requirements of smaller municipalities must not be reduced since the expected outcome are not different. What could possibly be different is the revenue base of each municipality.
It is incomprehensible why the ANC wouldn’t consider the appointment of Speakers as the process that can similarly be facilitated by the NEC, but by provinces and regions.
The complexity of the responsibilities and accountability might be different but not lesser. Speakers of Municipalities are responsible for public participation and education. Chapter 15 of the Constitution is clear on this Mandate. One of few ways we can deal with many community unrests in our municipalities is through an informed citizenship.
Maintaining the decorum of Councils, ensuring that discussions are properly facilitated and that critical reports and adoption of budgets to advance service delivery is the task of the Speaker. Many Councils collapsed due to non-adherence to the latter aspect in council sittings. Lowering the requirements for Speakers therefore doesn’t make any logical sense.
The instruction letter from the DSG provides that provinces should forward 3 Mayoral candidates to be interviewed by the NEC. It would’ve sent a clear message that, where necessary, all three can still be returned and provinces may be required to send alternative candidates.
The Local Government System is very complex one but not impossible to manage. We need to be so rigid when looking for cadres capable of driving local governance such that it is not free for all. We need a Mayor who can easily and effortlessly comprehend reports by engineers as to why the municipalities resort to water tanks instead of clean tap water as a permanent mechanism.
A Mayor across all levels must be capable to comprehend and analyse financial statements submitted by the Accounting Officer, to determine beforehand when the municipality is veering towards financial crisis.
To be able to establish proper and correct mechanisms and to use relevant revenue sources to settle municipal debts with third parties. To put an end to municipality’s use of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant for other purposes other than the intended purpose and to build strong infrastructure in all municipalities across board.
To pay service providers within 30 days, to prioritise and capacitate local people and different sectors such as the youth, people with disabilities and women.
Countries in the world use development indicators to determine overall development index such as, how South Africa draw up when compared with other countries. South Africa fall within Medium Human Development countries, third to Botswana and Indonesia. According to Human Development Report, 2013, countries such as Tajikistan, ranked lower than SA in terms of income level but higher than us in terms of Human Development Index and Life Expectancy.
This means that although South Africans earn much higher than people in many other countries, they remain undeveloped and are mostly likely to die before reaching the age of 55. That is why we must be utterly critical of anything substandard because municipalities are at the centre of human development.
The antithesis of the above is what people want to see clearly articulated by my ANC and all its documents. No one, despite political affiliation can and should withstand buying water because they cannot endure drinking dirty water.
No one, despite political affiliation must be robbed of the quality health care services because they cannot afford private healthcare. For as long as we think that growth and employment is the sole responsibility of national government, inequality will prevail. For as long as municipalities fail to develop business models to revive local industries, use them to stimulate growth and prioritise inclusivity, no amount of stimulus packages will sustain our economy. We are today, more than ever before in dismal need of a capable state across all spheres.
We need to be so consistent that our efforts are able to defeat corruption and malfeasance. Our work must be such that those who steal from the people in one form or another must be quickly isolated. We must be able to detect strategies where some seek to deepen the crisis in order to justify Neo-liberal economies that benefit only a few. As cited by Former ANC Deputy President Cde Kgalema Motlanthe in conversation with Dr JJ Tabane, he said:
“the rehabilitation of people is a process, that is why you have correctional services and the criminal justice system. Politically, the attitude is that you can form and shape the person by arming them with the right kind of understanding which determines their world outlook. Then their political attitude can be developed to a point where a person is able to distinguish between right or wrong and begins to be conscious of the possible consequences of what he or she says or does.”
Having considered all of the above details, one must be kind to the ANC that these guidelines are a twitch, however they must be immediately altered to address some of the weaknesses identified. It could be argued though that the highlighted weaknesses are deliberate and were made to cover for internal shortcomings. It is however difficult for one to uphold them because the ANC clearly has limited time to rescue itself. We need to act and act now, not malicious compliance.
The struggle continues! We must not lose hope.
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