The new role of municipal officials as agents of change towards improved service delivery : the case of Welkom in the Matjhabeng local municipaltiy
Mokhoabane, Sello James
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An objective of local government is to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner. Thus, the Matjhabeng Local Municipality has the obligation to ensure that public services are rendered effectively, efficiently and sustainably. The obligation consequently is on the municipal officials, as agents of change towards improved service delivery, especially the Municipal Manager, as an accounting officer, to ensure improved service delivery and to continuously evaluate the quality, usefulness and acceptance of services delivered. Officials at the Matjhabeng Local Municipality, especially those at the Welkom office, have a range of delivery options to ensure quality service provision by strategically assessing and planning the most appropriate forms of service delivery for their customers. Officials need to be geared to the implementation of the chosen delivery options in the most effective and economical manner and to ensure maximum benefits to the customers. As agents of change, officials at the Matjhabeng Local Municipality need to be effective in operating the municipal machine effectively, efficiently and in providing rational advice to the elected office-bearers and for improved services to the Welkom community. For the purpose of this study, the hypothesis was formulated that legislation since 1994 entrusted officials as agents of change in service delivery, yet officials of the Welkom branch of the Matjhabeng Local Municipality lack capacity to effect change, and would require strategic training programmes to enhance their skills and effectiveness. In support of the empirical research, use and analysis of a theoretical study of local government as agent for change were undertaken. The analysis showed that the theoretical distinction in the roles of political office-bearers and appointed officials in the service delivery process was incorrect. Rather, the empirical study supported a close and meaningful collaboration between the appointed officials and political office-bearers for sound financial and resources management. Further, it was found that with administrative and financial resources available, the municipality can make a significant impact in the Welkom community.