#UPGraduation2022: Accountability in municipalities will improve service delivery, PhD study finds

Posted on June 02, 2022

Municipalities are constantly under siege for their lack of accountability and poor leadership and service delivery resulting in the needs of locals compromised.

The lack of accountability and transparency has, in many instances, been underpinned by rampant corruption. As a result, some municipalities have been placed under administration due to wasteful expenditure and misappropriation of funds and resources meant for the improvement of communities.

The dysfunctional and collapsing state of municipalities is what prompted Dr Fezile Ngqobe, a PhD graduate from the School of Public Management and Administration in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) at the University of Pretoria (UP) to investigate whether the development of an integrated performance and accountability framework could contribute to improved service delivery. Dr Ngqobe’s PhD study, titled ‘Developing a performance and accountability framework for the Gauteng municipalities’, argued that the growing challenges of urbanisation and inequalities require municipalities to improve performance and accountability for effective delivery of services.

Having worked in the government for over 15 years and as the current Chief of Staff at the North West Provincial Government, this particular study was of great interest to Dr Ngqobe – who has dedicated most of his career towards advancing communities.

For his study, he assessed four municipalities: the City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, City of Ekurhuleni and Mogale Local Municipality. The findings of Dr Ngqobe’s study revealed that some of the challenges that impede accountability and performance in municipalities are the existence of multiple accountability environments and requirements of various performance reports by both the national and provincial governments, the demanding legislative environment of numerous statutory and regulatory obligations presenting compliance difficulties, and the lack of an integrated performance and accountability framework due to a plethora of legislation.

Municipalities are an important sphere of government, given their proximity to communities. Their accountability and performance are prudent for effective service delivery in communities, which drives economic activities and in turn contributes to economic development.

Dr Ngqobe says, given that service delivery is at the centre of economic development, an integrated accountability framework is needed.

“Gauteng is the economic hub of the country with the largest population and, therefore, its municipalities are home to the largest population and major economic activities.”

“It is important for Gauteng municipalities to have an integrated accountability framework as this will contribute to effective service delivery, which promotes economic activities and investments. Effective accountability leads to local economic development, which provides economic opportunities for communities for sustainable livelihoods,” says Dr Ngqobe.

He notes that “without accountability, the investment on local economies gets affected, subsequently affecting the lives and livelihood of the communities. Accountability also curbs corruption.”

Dr Ngqobe, who is one of 14 EMS PhD graduates who were capped during the recent autumn graduation season at UP, says while balancing studies and a demanding job, support from his family and his perseverance led to the successful completion of his studies.

Studying at UP has been a pleasant journey for Dr Ngqobe as he received great support from the Faculty of EMS and the PhD programme coordinators, he said. He found the engagement sessions with the PhD programme coordinators incredibly helpful.

“During these sessions we shared experiences amongst ourselves as students. The sessions also helped the faculty to assess our progress and provide some support on how to overcome some of the challenges. These engagement sessions were immensely helpful and contributed to the completion of my study.”

While the PhD journey can be demanding, requiring great discipline, he advises those pursuing PhD studies to find a balance between their studies and their personal lives.

“Plan your studies, sacrifice certain things of your lifestyle as the study demands. When you have space, be available to catch up with your family. Furthermore, it is important to persevere as the journey demands.”

With a PhD in the bag, he hopes to later enter academia and pursue his postdoctoral studies.

Read more #UPGraduation2022 stories

- Author Refilwe Mabula
Published by Hlengiwe Mnguni

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