Local Government Observations: The Taste of Pudding is in the Eating

Dr Vuyiwe Tsako is a Local Government Expert with a sound knowledge of administration. We discuss the need to redefine local government culture, key challenges, if true relationships really matter, and much more.

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Episode Summary:
Dr. Vuyiwe Tsako discusses the state of local government in South Africa. The guest expert talks about the relationship dynamics between community members and political leaders before, during, and after deployment. Factionalism within political parties is discussed, along with the importance of collaboration with civil society organizations and community members to improve governance and service delivery at a local level. The video also emphasizes the need for administrative and political accountability in local government, where the government takes responsibility for their decisions. Dr. Tsako suggests improving the culture and operationalizing the values of local government to enhance capacity building efforts and redefining the role of senior managers in improving the stability and professionalism of local government.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, the guest expert discusses the state of local government in terms of leadership in South Africa. While there is a relationship between the municipality and community members, as well as political leaders and the community, there is no real romantic or comfortable relationship in local government, according to the expert. Before a political leader enters the system, there is an established level of trust between them and the community, but once in the system, this often breaks down due to the leader becoming too busy. The breakdown of this relationship can lead to a lack of trust, which may result in protest actions and a further breakdown of the relationship.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, Dr. Tsako discusses the relationship dynamics in the process of appointing administrative leadership in local government. He identifies three kinds of relationships that exist before, during, and after deployment, and notes that leaders often make the mistake of assuming that the same kind of relationship that existed before deployment will continue during the term of their office. However, this is often not the case, and it can lead to strained relationships and a lack of trust. Dr. Tsako highlights the challenge of functionalism in local government, where factions and patronage play a dominant role, and advises leaders not to align themselves with any particular faction.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, Dr. Tsako discusses the challenges of factionalism within political parties and its impact on local government. The appointed senior managers are seen as offspring of the dominant faction, and this can lead to service delivery challenges and issues regarding patronage. Dr. Tsako suggests that learning from past mistakes and sharing scientifically proven information among leadership can lead to improvement in municipalities. Additionally, there is a framework for professionalizing the public service that could improve issues of professionalism within local government. The framework requires senior managers to be part of professional associations and follow their code of conduct.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Dr. Tsako discusses the issue of permanence of senior managers in local government and how it could lead to a more stable and professional environment, reducing the risk of unethical practices and patronage. Dr. Tsako also emphasizes the important role of COGTA in supporting local governments' appointments and ensuring quality. To address challenges facing local government, Dr. Tsako proposes redefining its culture and operationalizing its values, as well as enhancing capacity building efforts for both administrative and political leaders. Qualifications and a competency framework for political leaders could improve their ability to manage political dynamics and provide better oversight.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, Dr. Tsako highlights the importance of collaboration between local government and other stakeholders such as civil society organizations and community members to improve governance and service delivery at a local level. The national policy framework on public participation, which emphasizes community involvement and consultation, is still relevant and important. Dr. Tsako believes that involving the community in decision-making and consulting with them is crucial, and municipalities should not just do it to tick boxes, but to genuinely get feedback and make sure issues raised are effectively addressed. Dr. Tsako also discusses the role of citizens in improving local government in South Africa, emphasizing the need for participation, cooperation, and partnerships where communities have considerable influence and decision-making power, but the government takes responsibility for their decisions. Finally, Dr. Tsako highlights accountability as an essential factor, where political accountability is about politicians making choices on behalf of the people, and administrative accountability is about managing resources and achieving goals in a transparent and effective way.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, Dr. Tsako discusses the issue of administrative accountability in local government. They note that the community members may not always understand how to hold their leaders accountable and sometimes end up demanding the removal of administrators rather than political accountability. However, there are also pockets of excellence in some municipalities where leaders are performing their duties ethically and diligently. Dr. Tsako emphasizes the need to identify and address challenges in local government to bring about positive change.

About Dr. Vuyiwe Tsako:

Dr. Vuyiwe Tsako is a South African, expert with more than 25 years local government experience of which 15 years is gained at leadership level. Her experience has been in metropolitan, district and local municipalities in Eastern Cape and KZN Provinces of South Africa, respectively. Dr. Tsako obtained Ph.D. (Wits University) in 2018, master's degree in HR (Nelson Mandela University), Honours in Business Management (Vista university), and BCom in Industrial Psychology (Vista university), and is a Doctor of Business Management candidate at Regenesys Business School. She has published FIVE papers focusing mainly on different aspects of local government such as:

  1. Multiple Culture's influence on Intergovernmental Relations in local government
  2. COVID-19 Impact on municipalities: The case of KZN Municipalities
  3. The Effect of Political Environment on Service Delivery: A Study of Political Instability, Patronage and Factionalism in a Municipal Environmen
  4. Leadership reputation and the role of factionalism
  5. Intergovernmental Relations in KwaZulu Natal District Municipalities.

Having received several accolades as one of the best women in Leadership including BWASA (gold award), KZN Premier's award (silver), and Standard Bank's top women award, Dr Tsako is amongst the experienced local government practitioners in South Africa. She affiliates with the Institute of Local Government Managers (ILGM), International Organisation for Organisational Development and Change (ISODC) AND Coaches and Mentors of South Africa, amongst others.

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