Human capital development in local government and the search for a capable state

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 6
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    Any organisation’s functioning is dependent on the people involved in it and their ability to optimally work towards the organisation’s mandate. In a highly competitive world, career success and accompanying rewards play a significant role in the lives of individuals. In return for contributing to the organisational mandate, people would like to believe and feel that they are equally rewarded. These rewards may of course take on many forms, what is important is that people want to feel appreciated in their work environment. In outlining the basic values and principles governing public administration, Section 195(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 provides for the promotion and maintenance of a high standard of professional ethics. Section 195(1)(h) furthermore provides for the cultivation of good human resource management and career development practices to maximise human potential. Linked to these constitutional provisions, chapter 13 of the National Development Plan Vision 2030, deals with the strategic development and service delivery blueprint of the South African government, for the creation of a capable state, promoting the notion of “making the public service and local government careers of choice”. For any organisation to be regarded as capable, it can be assumed that it has to achieve results attached to the functions associated with such an organisation. According to a study conducted by Matebesi (2015), protest action by local communities in South Africa had increased from approximately 10 in 2004 to 111 in 2010 to 173 in 2012. In the first nine months of 2014, 134 demonstrations were recorded. The study defined service delivery protests as “collective action taken by a community which was directed at a local municipality over poor or inadequate provision of basic services”. Based on this study, one could easily be tempted to argue against the capability of local government organisations in South Africa. Although it would obviously be an unbalanced approach to use the number of service delivery protests as the only yardstick to measure local government capability, it has to be recognised that the ability of South African municipalities to provide in the basic service delivery and developmental needs of local communities, is under constant scrutiny. The results of the recently concluded local government elections, in which the governing African National Congress lost control in key municipalities in the country, are seen by many, as an additional indication that the supposed recipients of municipal services are not satisfied with the performance of municipal organisations. This article will, on the basis of the above, examine the issue of human capital development in local government. It will attempt to ascertain how career professionals in municipalities feature in the seemingly challenging environment of local government. The article will furthermore, based on career development literature, determine, what a career of choice as outlined in the NDP, constitutes. The ultimate aim is to use the theoretical foundations of this article for follow-up empirical research in local government.