Local government is a complex world but when one breaks it down, you’re looking at a few success factors.
1. Division of responsibilities.
Successful municipalities enjoy a clear understanding of the roles and the responsibilities between the politicians and the administration of a municipality. The former provides oversight, and the latter manages and administers. Their vision must be aligned, and the administrators get on with the job of service delivery.
2. Supply chain management.
Corruption of ten rears its head when political leadership influences purchasing decisions or the controls around SCM are willfully ignored by management. SCM is a regulated process so there should be no excuse for non-compliance.
A lack of trained Supply Chain Managers is a significant factor in service delivery failure. A flawed tender specification and process can have a significant impact on service delivery. A challenge from an unsuccessful vendor can result in litigation which puts an essential project on hold aside from the extensive cost of legal fees, and loss of hope and confidence from the community.
3. People growth and development.
A top performing municipality is obsessed with developing their people’s skills in a process of continuous development. This provides added motivation and ensures that skills remain relevant to the changing needs of their communities. It also provides continuity of best-practices by preparing the next wave of leadership.
4. Management of consultants.
Like the private sector, the public sector also needs the services of expert consultants from time to time. Here, consultants should not be contracted to per form mundane tasks that trained employees should be performing in-house (which arises from not developing staff or employing unsuitable people). Management should also be skilled in managing consultants to prevent budget creep and of course, ensuring that the work promise has been delivered according to the SLA.
The consultant should also be at tuned to how they are contributing to the municipalities purpose and vision which provides an edge to their performance.
5. Purpose and drive.
There will always be an overarching purpose which simplistically is, dependant on budget, to provide the community with an optimal service. But budgets are of ten stretched so the top municipalities have a ‘can do’ attitude. In recent months we have seen a Municipal Manager and his team roll up their sleeves and in scorching heat, repair potholes themselves; an in-house team constructing a first-class road without the expense of a contractor, and an Emergency Services outfit consolidate essential services (e.g. SAPS, municipal law enforcement, ambulance etc) to significantly improve safety in their wider region.
It is convenient to attribute non-delivery to budget constraints but having a clear purpose and drive to perform overcomes many obstacles.
6. Strategic intent.
While service delivery is core, top municipalities also have strategic intent beyond tourism. Typically, this can include plans to attract investors, funders and gaining a share of the semigration or returning expat markets.
Yes, the top performing municipalities are ‘just doing their jobs’ but they are doing it consistently well, if not brilliantly, and deserve our respect for showing how things can and should be, and providing hope for a better South Africa.
Mubesko Africa is a consulting practice which offers financial accounting and management consulting solutions, asset accounting and modelling, and fraud investigation services to the private and public sectors. Mubesko’s key value lies in the natural convergence of these three disciplines, providing depth and width.