SALGA to professionalise Local Government

Midrand - The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) says it aims to turn municipalities into professional and responsive entities with its Local Government Human Resource Management and Development Strategy.

Briefing reporters at their two-day Human Resource Management and Development Strategy conference in Midrand, SALGA executive director for Municipal and Institutional Development, Rio Nolutshungu, said they wanted to push up the levels of professionalism in local government, so that jobs in the sector become the “career of choice”.

“The strategy is intended to achieve one very crucial objective… to assist municipalities make better use of the human capital at their disposal, for them to be able to fulfil their important objective of accelerating service delivery as well as promoting development in the entire local government.

“The tradition in local government was that human resource management tends to occupy a less prominent role compared to other areas of the institution… Now with this strategy, we are trying to match and put this strategy at the forefront of local government,” he said.

Nolutshungu said the strategy hinged on important pillars such as getting the right people in strategic local government positions. These people did not only need to meet the educational requirements, but they had to have the “highest level of integrity” and they had to be committed to serve the community.

“The strategy seeks to emphasise employing people who are prepared to go the extra mile in serving the needs of the people, [are] professional, [and] constantly learning and developing themselves,” he said.

According to Nolutshungu, the significance of the strategy – which local government would be expected to implement upon its adoption – for local government was that it would guide municipalities towards what he said was commonly found in the private sector such as adequate planning for staff, a plan for retaining skilled staff as well as managing performance.

“We want to put all our municipalities at a level where all these things are a given. What is happening right now is that when you hear there is a problem in a particular municipality, the next answer you are going to get is that we are experiencing this challenge because we don’t have the right people.

“So with this strategy, we want to do away with such institutionalised excuses, which can be accepted as a reality.”

SALGA Deputy Chairperson Mpho Nawa also emphasised the importance of professionalising local government. He said the strategy outlined the vision and the mission of a developmental local government.

“In our path to building a professional local government, we will continue working with strategic partners to develop capacity in municipalities.

“We will continue conducting continuous training for councillors through our councillor induction programmes, which cut across the functional areas of local government,” he said.