Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi devoted a full day to the national congress of the SA Municipal Workers Union on Wednesday.
This came after delegates sent one of his officials packing on Tuesday.
Baloyi was scheduled to address them on Tuesday, but instead sent director general Charles Nwaila.
The minister's absence on the first day of the conference created debate from the floor, after the programme announcer wanted to give Nwaila a chance to deliver the minister's message.
Delegates refused the government official an audience at the conference.
Baloyi arrived on Wednesday morning and told delegates municipal workers were a very important partner in the local government sector.
He said SA needed good governance to resolve problems at municipal level. Vacancies at municipalities should be filled and financial management must be improved to beef up service.
Baloyi told delegates the financial management of municipalities was top priority at his department.
Samwu spokesman Tahir Sema said the minister apologised for his absence at the conference on Tuesday.
Baloyi devoted the rest of the day to delegates and attend commissions to answer specific questions on issues at municipalities.
SA Communist Party national chairman Senzeni Zokwana also spoke to delegates.
He said trade unions should be seen as a partner by municipalities, not as an enemy. - Sapa