Seminar Series Interrogates Local Government Research Findings

Creating a Greater Impact through a Credible Research Agenda in the Local Government Sector was the title of a seminar hosted by the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance (SMIG) in collaboration with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA).

The primary objective of the seminar was to communicate research findings to multi-sector stakeholders for interrogation through meaningful engagement and robust discussions.

The seminar is part of the broader LGSETA Research Seminar Series that is currently being conducted across all nine provinces to deliberate on findings from LGSETA commissioned research.

According to national LGSETA Research Manager, Mr Matodzi Ralushai, the purpose of the series is to produce evidence-based solutions to improve local government across the country.

‘This is the first time we brought the seminar series to KwaZulu-Natal and UKZN,’ said Ralushai. ‘The research findings are instrumental in the unravelling of the challenges that continue to frustrate the local government sector in carrying out its mandate. We intend to implement findings to inform qualification development, policy development and sector skills plan,’ he said.

The well-attended seminar heard the views of various discipline experts, including provincial and local government practitioners, academics, researchers, postgraduate students and doctoral fellows from different universities, as well as representatives from non-profit and private sector organisations.

There were three presentations on findings from the following research projects:

  • Comparative Analysis of the Municipal Billing System on Revenue Collection presented by Professor John Mafunisa of MJ Mafunisa Consulting, supported by Professor Pundy Pillay of the Wits School of Governance;
  • Politico-Administrative Municipal Leadership by Employees and Multi-Sector Stakeholders presented by Ms Nicole Crozier of Urban-Econ, supported by UKZN’s Professor Betty Mubangizi; and
  • LGSETA Tracer Study of Learners that Completed LGSETA-Funded Learnerships between 2016/17 – 2017/18 Financial Years presented by Ms Lynelle John of Lynelle John and Associates, supported by Dr Sybert Mutereko of UKZN.

Event organiser Professor Fayth Ruffin, chaired the deliberations and encouraged delegates to critique the research and plot a way forward on how, if warranted, the research findings could be implemented in South African municipalities. On this matter, the national LGSETA is preparing a report on implementation strategies for dissemination to municipalities.

One of the highlights of the day was a talk by KZN-COGTA Deputy Director General for Local Government, Mr Thulani Mdadane, on the usefulness of platforms, such as the seminar, which enable UKZN to critically engage with societal issues. Mdadane revealed the South African Presidency’s innovative approach to local government that links wards to national objectives, which KwaZulu-Natal is modelling for subsequent implementation by other provinces.

KZN-COGTA Chief Director for Capacity Building, Ms Halima Khunoethe, explained the new strategies for auditing and capacitating municipal councillors and how this related to the topics under discussion.

There was a particularly heated debate about the role of the politico-administrative interface in municipal leadership, stimulated in part by Mubangizi’s insistence that the delegates unpack the meanings and purposes of cadre deployments. Many other issues were raised and suggestions from the delegates provided future research objectives.

Words and Photograph by: Lungile Ngubelanga