The unstated success factors

In an environment of dismal public service delivery (only 38 out of 257 municipalities received clean audits in 23/24), Weskus Municipal Manager David Joubert shares some insights on what constitutes success in a municipality.

Based on the role envisaged for local government by the Constitution, performance is scored against 5 criteria, namely Service Delivery; Administration and Governance; Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Leadership and Management. The Western Cape scored the highest overall score of 4.11 out of 5.

However, the scores can quickly shift. For example, Ekurhuleni top-scored at 5/5 for Leadership but this soon dissipated as the DA-led coalition was ousted.

Scoring well is reflected in citizen satisfaction levels. The Western Cape scored at 43% against a countrywide average of 30%. Again, an indication of whether the municipality – despite a high score — is perceived as delivering essential services. A good municipality must then look at the effectiveness of communications for several reasons:

  • Perceptions of poor service delivery can lead to unrest.
  • A sense of dissatisfaction can repel investors which impacts on development plans.

While effective communication is not scored directly, it is a key factor in a municipality’s success.

While the following factors are linked to the various scoring criteria in one way or another, they are worth special mention separately when examining what makes a municipality successful:

  • Courage: At a time when criminal syndicates are finding their way into local government, key leadership positions and those managing Executive or Director portfolios including positions in areas such as Supply Chain management or Audit are increasingly at risk. Given the pressure, without courageous leadership governance could collapse.
  • Vision: It would be tempting and even sensible to only focus on current reality but if we ignore the near-future, municipalities will always be lagging in public service. The challenge is finding the capacity to manage the present and future needs, but it must be done.
  • Alternative Thinking. This is a stretch beyond ‘innovation’. Although government funding is declining, the current and future needs of our communities are growing exponentially. Successful municipalities will be counted by their ability to find alternative ways to generate revenue to sustain service delivery.

Although the five scoring categories are all pillars of a successful municipality, they are essentially qualifiers or tickets to the ‘Municipal Game’. Communities have a right to expect that their municipality not only ‘qualifies’ but scores highly. Given the urgent now and future needs of our communities and the rate of change in the world, maybe we should be scored separately on Courage, Vision, and Innovation. Because that is what it will take!


David Joubert
Municipal Manager
Weskus Distrik.

West Coast District Municipality

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