Empowering Local Government: Challenges, Innovations, and Youth Engagement

Prof Zwelinzima Ndevu is Director of the School of Public Leadership (SPL) at Stellenbosch University. We explore the most pressing challenges facing local government, advancements in technology and its impacts, advice to young professionals who aspire to make a difference in local government, and much more.

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Listen or watch to explore:

  • What inspired him to pursue a career in public administration and how his journey has been so far.
  • The most pressing challenges facing local government in South Africa, and how can they be addressed.
  • The most effective ways to promote transparency and accountability in public administration.
  • How advancements in technology, such as the rise of artificial intelligence and big data, are impacting the field of public administration and local government.
  • Advice to young professionals who aspire to make a difference in public administration and local government.
  • Success stories and initiatives that he has spearheaded in his career, and how they have contributed to improving public administration and local government in South Africa.
  • How they compare to other schools of government on a global scale.

Episode Summary:
Prof Zwelinzima Ndevu discusses the challenges and innovations in empowering local government, particularly in South Africa. Some of the challenges highlighted include the capacity to deliver services, declining revenue, and lack of personnel with technical know-how. Prof. Ndevu suggests differentiating services based on municipalities' specific needs and prioritizing professionalization. The importance of stakeholders with technical and financial skills, regular communication and reporting, and the implementation of technology like AI and big data are also emphasized. Youth engagement is seen as crucial, with young people bringing innovative ways of delivering services and making an impact. The success story of an initiative empowering local government officials is shared, and universities are seen as playing a role in empowering local government through programs, collaborations, and involving students in problem-solving. Collaboration between universities and research institutions is also emphasized as a way to improve government practices and resolve challenges.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Professor Ndevu,Director of the School of Public Leadership (SPL) at Stellenbosch University, discusses his inspiration to pursue a career in public administration, which stemmed from a desire to serve others and make a positive impact. He also highlights some of the pressing challenges facing local government in South Africa, including the capacity to deliver services, the influx of citizens to urban areas, the decline in revenue, and the lack of personnel with technical know-how. To address these challenges, he suggests differentiating services based on the specific needs of each municipality and prioritizing the professionalization of local government.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, Prof. Ndevu emphasizes the importance of stakeholders with the necessary technical and financial skills in local government to address challenges and ensure transparency in resource utilization. They highlight the need for regular communication and reporting between municipalities and stakeholders, including community engagement. Prof. Ndevu also discusses the impact of technology, such as artificial intelligence and big data, in improving public administration and local government operations. They stress the need to invest in these platforms for effective intervention. Lastly, Prof. Ndevu advises young professionals in public administration and local government to recognize the importance of their work and its long-term impact on the future.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, Prof. Ndevu emphasizes the importance of youth engagement in local government to address lasting challenges. They highlight the need for young people to bring innovative ways of delivering services to their communities and make an impact in the local government space. Prof. Ndevu shares a success story of a treasury initiative that empowered local government officials with financial skills, resulting in improvements in the municipality's status and service delivery. They also mention the importance of universities in empowering local government through programs and collaborations with practitioners. Prof. Ndevu suggests that there is room for improvement by implementing a revolving door approach, allowing practitioners to share their knowledge with young graduates and academics to gain firsthand experience in the challenges faced by those in the local government space. By adopting this approach, they believe that schools of government can learn from other institutions worldwide and improve their curriculum and programs.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Prof. Ndevu suggests that universities can play a role in empowering local government by involving undergraduate and postgraduate students in problem-solving for communities. By creating case studies and sharing them with local government institutions, universities can contribute to the development of learning organizations. Prof. Ndevu also emphasizes the importance of collaboration between universities and research institutions to improve government practices and resolve challenges.

About Prof Zwelinzima Ndevu:

Prof Ndevu is an Academic Head: Honours in Public Development and Management in the School of Public Leadership responsible for lecturing undergraduate and postgraduate students and a professional associate at the Anti-Corruption Centre for Education and Research of Stellenbosch University (ACCERUS), South Africa. Prior to this he was the Sectional Head in the faculty of Humanities at the Polokwane Campus of Tshwane University of Technology responsible for the Public Management, Safety and Security and Languages departments. He has published peer-reviewed chapters in books, accredited journal articles and peer-reviewed national and international conference proceedings. He is a supporter of inter-disciplinary research which leads to numerous capacity-building projects in South Africa; training short courses; professional consultation and study supervision of Masters and Doctoral students projects; appointed as an external examiner for the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University; Cape Peninsula University of Technology; University of Fort-Hare; University of the Western Cape; Tshwane University of Technology and Management College of South Africa. A member of Association of Southern African Schools and Departments of Public Administration and Management (ASSAD).

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