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2008-01-31: An eventful year for the City of Johannesburg

Following a Council decision of the city's  performance, the City of Johannesburg has released the outcomes of the performance review process for its senior management,  for the year ending June 30 2007.

The Performance Management Review for Johannesburg is conducted by a panel consisting of representatives from the private sector and senior public service practitioners.

It is worth noting that city managers are remunerated on the basis of their annual performance.

The performance outcomes are only released now for a number of reasons. Among these are:

1.        The Audit Process of a municipal institutional the size of Johannesburg is a complex and time-consuming exercise given that it is the largest municipality in the country. Careful assessment in the process is always paramount.
2.        The Audited Annual Financial Statements of the city were processed and due to be tabled at Council in January 2008, which is just in time in accordance with the Audit Plan proposed by the Auditor General . 
3.        In accordance with the Municipal Performance Regulation, performance assessments must take place after the year end audited financial statement and the Municipal Annual report have been prepared and tabled in Council.

The City of Johannesburg (CoJ) operates within the Regulations stipulated by the Department of Provincial and Local Government which outlines the framework for contract rewarding and performance managing of senior managers in Municipalities and municipal-owned entities.

These regulations are called the Local Government: Municipal Performance Regulations for Municipal Managers and Managers directly accountable to Municipal Managers, 2006, and took effect on the 1 August 2006. However, one important aspect to note is that in the CoJ, the issue of performance managed managers had been institutionalized since 2001; using a policy prescription of the city with similar parameters.
 In the year under review, the city had a number of achievements to celebrate including the first ever clean audit, the national Vuna Awards and the improved credit rating. While the Vuna Awards for the best managed municipality in the country were given during the current financial year, it must be remembered that the assessment for the awards was in fact done during the two years prior… which aligns with the Audit outcomes referred to in this report.

Among the performance indicators reflected on the scorecard of senior managers, were:
1.      Immediate attainment of a clean audit (which had eluded the city for over 13 years)
2.      Management of city resources with strict performance ratios for financial prudence so that the liquidity of the municipality is never placed at undue risk including management of debtors.
3.      Appropriate expenditure profile for capital allocation and the Operating Budget.
4.      Management turn-around of the planning processes that had been a subject of adverse public comments in the past.
5.      Initiate and roll-out the new Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) initiative in preparation of 2010 and for improved mobility in the city
6.      Improve access to basic municipal services especially in areas that had no services for a long time
7.      Implement the 2010 infrastructure programme, by-law work and legacy initiatives. This done to ensure that the efforts to deliver on a successful World Cup help to deepen the city's programmes and leave a legacy for years to come. 
8.      Turn around in processing development and rezoning applications in the city.
9.      Establishment of a Migrants' Desk to ensure that all Joburg people have an opportunity to access assistance offered by the city (or other stakeholders), but also to ensure that immigrants understand the need to behave in a manner befitting a good urban environment
10.     Rolling out of emergency management service to less formal areas of the city and ensuring that negative environmental damage is kept to a minimum.
11.     Creating a safe environment in all the city's accredited and approved public gatherings while contributing to the fight against societal ills and crime.

While the team of senior managers in Johannesburg has individual scorecards, an encouraging aspect of the results was the demonstration that they are working better as a team rather than every one focusing only on their portfolios.

The results were thus accepted as a true reflection of an "Upscale collective responsibility on working towards a continuing improvement of services and quality of life in Johannesburg."

The rating of the managers ranged from a 95% of all key Performance activities to 75%, a true sign of an institution where performances are on the rise. 

Concluding the assessment, the city noted that this has to be a start – "a good start" -   but much more must be done as the city moves forward in ever increasing levels of sophistication, efficiency, universal benefit and discipline.

In reaction to the report, the City Manager, Mr Mavela Dlamini, said:
"At the time of my appointment, I said my priority is 'to take the grand plans mapped out by my predecessors and 'get the job done'. I summed up my role as having to focus on "good administration and well-managed public resources."

 "This is best tested in the Auditor General's assesses of our financial statements and the annual report. My sense is: we have not arrived just yet, as there are still a number of routine/basic activities that need addressing. But we certainly are a functional and well-oiled team with a mission driven by a great potential to revolutionise municipal services.

 Our team deserves the acknowledgements and I am proud of each member thereof, including our Municipal Owned Entities (MOEs). However, we must never work hard in order to be rewarded but rather get rewarded because of having done well. What we want to eradicate is 'passengers' on this ship and everyone on board must row-and-row harder at all times. It is indeed humbling to come so far and so quick. This proves the point that all these challenges can be met successfully. We just need to be a bit more focused and diligent and never say it cannot be done simply because the solutions are not staring us in the face," said Mr Dlamini.

Some of the current challenges that were recognized as not yet achieved by the City included:
1.        The establishment of a Regional Electricity Distributor (RED) due to a cabinet decision that necessitated a review of the Johannesburg model.
2.        The more effective marketing of the municipal work of the city to the public.
3.        The effective recruitment of people with disabilities to ensure a representative workforce.
4.        Efficient interventions to combat traffic congestion. 

In line with the Municipal Performance Regulations, the city will be rewarding the performance-managed team of the city by between 3% and 14% of their annual packages which will be paid as soon as the final decisions are taken. The recipients are acknowledged and considered worthy of the bonuses they shall receive.