“We must attract skilled, competent staff based on merit and not political appointments” — Dacre Haddon
CRIPPLING senior management shortages in almost half the province’s municipalities are wreaking havoc with local industry as service delivery is coming to a near standstill in those areas.
The provincial Local Government Department has revealed there are 28 senior vacancies in 21 out of 45 municipalities – a shortage being attributed to everything from resignations to misconduct.
Officials say resignations account for half the vacancies.
Questions are now being asked as to why interviewing processes to fill these are not being conducted as soon as possible. Senior staff include municipal managers, technical directors, chief financial officers and senior corporate services staff.
In the Sundays River Valley, where there is no technical director to oversee infrastructure development, citrus farmers are losing a staggering R100-million in revenue every year as export fruits are battered and bruised while being transported on the deteriorating roads to ports.
The industry is the country’s second-largest foreign exchange earner.
“In Sundays River the shocking conditions of the roads cannot improve unless there is a technical director to oversee and give guidance to infrastructure development,” DA shadow local government MEC Dacre Haddon said.
He also pointed to senior manager deficiencies in Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga where infighting about filling jobs was causing poor service delivery.
The fact that Kouga did not have a chief financial officer had meant the municipality had gone from obtaining a clean audit from the Auditor-general to a disclaimer in three consecutive financial years, he said.
“These vacancies have a direct impact on lack of service delivery as there are no competent and skilled staff in these positions to plan, execute and drive service delivery programmes.
“This is one of the cardinal reasons that continued service delivery failure plagues the people of this province – especially the vulnerable.”
Of particular concern was the high number of these vacancies caused by “resignations”.
Local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said he was aware of the vacancies and had met the councils of the various municipalities.
“We have instructed councils to fill these vacancies as soon as possible but in line with the law,” Qoboshiyane said.
His department would also be keeping a close eye on progress.
Haddon is set on establishing what the reasons for these vacancies and resignations are.
“I will be asking the portfolio committee on local government to investigate why there is such a high degree of resignations. Secondly, I have written to Qoboshiyane, asking what plans are in place to fill these vacancies and by what date these vacancies will be filled.
“Thirdly, I will be asking that the MEC, with the portfolio committee and the Local Government Department, carry out an in-depth survey and look at best practice as to how we attract skilled and competent staff to these positions, based on merit and not political appointments.”
Haddon would assist in ensuring competent staff were “legally and correctly appointed and where possible get representation on interview panels”.
He added: “The tardiness is due to failure to interview or advertise these vacant posts months after the incumbent has left and illustrates how crisis management in municipalities has become the order of the day.”