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Durban - Some of the eThekwini Municipality’s most experienced and efficient officials do not meet the national treasury’s competency guidelines for local government officials and will have to take extra lessons.
But they are not happy about it and argue that their experience and insight should count for something.
To achieve a competency certificate, the officials have to attend lectures and submit assignments.
Speaking in his personal capacity, the municipality’s head of revenue, Peet du Plessis, who is among those who must go back to school, said there had been a
lot of change in local government and some officials, now regarded as incompetent, had kept the “boat afloat” during the transformation, even helping to draft the new legislation.
Du Plessis said department heads and municipal managers needed a certain level of qualification and had to belong to a professional institute.
For example, chief financial officers (CFOs) had to belong to the Institute for Municipal Finance Officers and have the relevant tertiary qualification.
The Municipal Accountants Act 21 of 1988 was clear that a municipality could not appoint a CFO who was not registered with the Board of Municipal Accountants.
Du Plessis said the act had been in place until those now pushing for minimum competency decided it should be repealed. This was done with the promulgation of the Municipal Finance Management Act in 2005.
“Not only was the national treasury directly responsible for the vacuum that led to the appointment of some incompetent people as CFOs, but they have also, with the stroke of a pen, taken away a person’s professional qualification.”
But eThekwini transport authority head Thami Manyathi said he had no issue with the competency requirements.
He believed it was important to have standards to work towards because some officials performed below expectations.
Responding to The Mercury’s questions, eThekwini’s deputy city manager for finance, Krish Kumar, said all municipal staff had the necessary qualifications and experience to do their jobs.
Kumar said the competency requirements were to “regulate the local government environment” and ensure increased efficiency in areas such as budgeting and financial and supply chain management.
He said 125 staff had started training and would complete the course by June 2014. An additional 200 accounting staff would also be trained.
“There is leniency for senior managers in the training to not attend all lectures, to allow them space to continue with their daily responsibilities, as the requirements are onerous.
“The municipality has the budget and funds are provided in terms of the Seta funding for the identified 325 officials. There are 15 modules per individual at a cost of R3 000 each.”
Treasury spokesman Phumza Macanda said the database showed that most officials met three of the four set requirements.
These included a higher education qualification, work-related experience and core managerial and occupational competency levels.
Macanda said most municipalities had only recently attempted to acquire the fourth requirement “on sector-specific competency levels under financial management and supply chain management”.
This was because training for some started late, while others were not interested or didn’t understand the issues surrounding the regulations.