Developing a conflict resolution strategy for the local government sphere : the case of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality
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This study comprises an investigation into the causes of conflict between councillors and municipal officials in the local government sphere, with specific reference to the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. Conflict is regarded as a difference in beliefs, opinions, values and principles between two or more individuals that manifest in role differences and role conflicts within the workplace. In this study the focus is specifically on conflict within the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality and how the identified causes of conflict between councillors and municipal officials can be managed. Conflict could have a huge and negative impact on the employment relationship between councillors and municipal officials if it is not managed properly. This research was conducted by means of a qualitative research methodology that included a case study approach comprising a literature review and semi-structured interviews for data collection. Semi-structured interview questions were put to respondents in order to obtain their views regarding conflict within the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The research objectives provide for an analyses of the theoretical framework for conflict and conflict management, legislation addressing conflict and facilitating conflict management in the local government sphere, an explanation of the nature of conflict between councillors and municipal officials, an explanation of the challenges experienced by the employer and employees when using the current conflict resolution mechanisms and, lastly, proposing an alternative conflict resolution strategy to address conflict between councillors and officials of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The research objectives of the study were realised through the literature review and the use of semi-structured interviews. The data collection resulted in findings relating to the conflict situation in the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality and the effectiveness of the current conflict resolution mechanisms utilised by the said municipality. Based on the findings, it is argued that the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality is in need of a conflict resolution strategy. Therefore a conflict resolution strategy is proposed for the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality to manage conflict between councillors and officials more effectively. Lastly, it should be noted that various recommendations are made as to how the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality can implement the proposed conflict resolution strategy in order to exercise better control and management of conflict between councillors and officials. The implementation of the recommendations will enable the employer and employee to have a better understanding of conflict situations in the workplace and, as a result thereof, contribute to a better employment relationship while positively affecting service delivery.
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