Unqualified municipal officials ‘at the heart of poor service delivery’

Eastern Cape – The qualifications saga at the Zululand district municipality in KwaZulu-Natal has exposed the endemic problem in the local government sector that policy and governance experts say is at the heart of poor service delivery by municipalities.

Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the mayor of the IFP-led municipality, raised eyebrows when he lifted the lid on several senior managers who are unqualified and lacked the required competencies to occupy their positions.

The qualification verification process also revealed that some managers holding key critical posts had not gone beyond matric.

While some managers out of the 34 who were part of the probe were cleared, those who couldn’t produce their qualifications hastily resigned.

The move has, however,  caught the wrath of other political parties with the EFF, NFP and the ANC raising their displeasure. The governing party in KZN said Buthelezi had overstepped his authority because he was not an executive mayor and as such, could not instruct a skills audit.

However, Buthelezi is unrepentant, defending the exercise, saying managers should comply with municipal competency levels for senior managers as required by law.

In uMngeni local municipality, the only council in KwaZulu-Natal governed by the DA, mayor Christopher Pappas has already introduced sweeping changes, ordering an investigation on skills and qualifications for officials in managerial positions.

“In the first week of office, the DA requested all contracts, job descriptions and qualifications of general managers and senior managers.

“There are some gaps and issues that are of concern,” Pappas told Sunday World.

He said the information would be used for a skills audit, which would be commissioned at the final council meeting of the year that will take place on Friday next week.

Dr Kagiso Pooe, a senior lecturer at Wits School of Governance, said for municipalities to perform effectively, employing people with the right qualifications and competencies should be the norm and not a once-off practice.

He said it was highly unlikely that well-established political parties such as the EFF and ANC would support the move because it was not serving their interests.


“In this reality, it makes perfect sense why they would not advocate for meritocracy but political expediency, which includes having unqualified administrators and unethical individuals at both political and administrative level,” said Pooe.

On Wednesday, Xolani Malindi, the chief financial officer at the Free State Nketoana local municipality, appeared in court on allegations that he had furnished fake qualifications while applying for the post of municipal manager.

In April, then minister of public service and administration Senzo Mchunu revealed in a parliamentary reply that out of 9 477 senior managers employed in various government departments, 3 301 did not have the required qualifications.

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