iLGM President Max Mbili: We have a crucial role to play as local government administrators to stimulate the reopening of local economies

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ADDRESS BY MAX MBILI, iLGM PRESIDENT, ON THE OCCASION OF THE
NATIONAL ELECTIVE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD ON VIDEO
CONFERENCING PLATFORM, ON THURSDAY, 28TH MAY 2020
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The Immediate Past President of iLGM, Mr Monde Stratu.
The Founding President of iLGM, Mr Thomas Lindelo Mkaza.
The Past Presidents of iLGM, Ms Dudu Maseko, Mr Khayo Mpungose and Mr Mxolisi
Nkosi
The Provincial Chairpersons of iLGM and members of respective Provincial
Executive Committees.
Members of the National Executive Committee of iLGM.
Fellow members of iLGM.
The CEO of iLGM, Mr Jean Venter, and members of the secretariat; Friends, Comrades,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

We gather together at this elective AGM under abnormal circumstances indeed hence we
hold our session as a virtual meeting, given the stringent regulations applicable to the whole
country due to the coronavirus pandemic that has plunged the entire globe into crisis. As
leading local government practitioners, we gather together being mindful of the huge price
being paid by thousands of our country’s health practitioners, administrators and support
workers who risk their own lives on a daily basis in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
Our thoughts and prayers are constantly mindful of the stellar work being done by such
leading compatriots to save lives of millions of our people. By the same token, we are
grateful for the work being done by our law enforcement personnel in all spheres of
government across the length and breadth of our country to maintain law and order
especially during the various levels of national lockdown, again in an endeavour to save
lives of our people.
We also pay our respects to the health workers who have fallen victim and had to succumb
to the covid-19 pandemic while they were in the line duty to save lives of others.
It would be remiss of me if I did not commend the South African President, His Excellency,
Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, on his decisive leadership demonstrated in the actions he and his
national executive have taken in fighting covid-19 proactively, focusing more on preventative
measures. It is heartening to note that our country is in safe hands as President Ramaphosa timely
declared a national state of disaster and lockdown, thereby making a huge impact on
flattening the curve of the coronavirus pandemic and enabling the South African health
sector to be better prepared to manage the novel crisis besetting us as a nation, it being
noted that this state of affairs is a global crisis too.

In my new capacity as President of the Institute for Local Government Management of South
Africa (iLGM), I also commend our fellow local government practitioners, especially
Municipal Managers of all municipalities and their respective Management teams, across
the length and breadth of our beloved country, as they have adhered to all laws, regulations,
by-laws, policies, procedures and statutory resolutions pertinent to the state of national
disaster declared by the President hence the efforts of our government in this regard have
been commended even by the United Nations.
Our collective endeavours as the three spheres of government have shown signs of yielding
desired outcomes of delaying the impact of covid-19 pandemic.

As iLGM members, we still need to do everything within our means and sphere of influence
to put all hands on deck in rebuilding our municipalities, communities and local economies
starting from now henceforth during the lower levels of the national lockdown and beyond.
To this end, we call upon all municipal employees and management teams to render
municipal services in the most professional manner that will make every compatriot consider
it an honour and privilege to be a South African.
Let the spirit of patriotism, ubuntu and Batho Pele prevail especially during the whole season
of combatting covid-19. Let us turn the crisis besetting us into an opportunity of fostering
national unity and love for fellow human beings.

Given the fact that we will be entering level 3 of the national lockdown with effect from 1
June 2020, we have a crucial role to play as local government administrators to stimulate
the reopening of our local economies. None of us is an expert in this regard. All of us will
be embarking on a steep learning curve. We will have to learn from one another. iLGM will
play a crucial role in facilitating the sharing of peer learning throughout our sector. This role
we will play alongside SALGA, COGTA and fellow professional associations in the sector.
The existence of iLGM will be more relevant for such a time as this.
In his book titled Overcoming Crisis, the Late Dr Myles Munroe shares, inter alia, the
following nuggets of wisdom:
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“A crisis requires innovative thinking. A crisis makes the brain expand beyond its
default setting, which is to go to the familiar experiences and solutions. Those old
things just won’t work anymore.
In a crisis, you cannot go ‘by the book’. You must have the capacity to create new
approaches to deal with the challenges…Don’t panic. Sit back and consider the
situation. You have a brain with 6 trillion cells. You have the Holy Ghost.
Get innovative. Let your crisis work for you. Grapple with your crisis and wring out
its benefits.
“This crisis is exposing some part of your old, familiar pattern that is going to have to
come to an end. This crisis is an announcement to the whole world that your old
ways of doing things need to be set aside. Your old solutions will not work this time.
You are going to need to recombine things.
“Of course, the process will not be very smooth. After all, it has never been tried
before. It is an innovative process, which by definition is risky because of moving
into untried and untested territory. Your initiative may attract critics. But if you do not
try something new, you are definitely going to go under.”

As this is our elective AGM as iLGM we are going to emerge with a new core team of national
officials who will have to work tirelessly in the next 24 months to make all managers in local
government proud of iLGM. Together we will make a significant contribution in turning the
tide of local government.
During our tenure we would like to ensure that the professionalisation of local government
is not only talked about but implemented. The time for paying lip service to
professionalisation of local government is over! We will campaign and demand
implementation of professionalisation of local government.
Our local government sector has been maligned and relegated as a Cinderella sphere of
government since the advent of our 26-year old democracy. The time for this state of affairs
is over!

Against this backdrop, it is crucial that all of us who will serve in the National Executive
Committee (NEC) of iLGM must be prepared to sacrifice in order to lay a solid foundation to
turn iLGM around and enable the institute to regain its past glory and surpass it.
I am indebted to all the past Presidents of iLGM and their respective NECs as we are taking
the baton from them. The iLGM has had the privilege of being served by the following
eminent local government practitioners as Presidents:

Mr Thomas Lindelo Mkaza (Founding President);
Mr Mojalefa “JJ” Matlole
Mr Dave Wilken
The Late Mr Musa Soni
Mr BB Biyela
Ms Thoko Mashiane
Mr Kenny Leluma
Mr George Seitisho
Ms Dudu Maseko;
Mr Khayo Mpungose;
Mr Luzuko Mdunyelwa;
Mr Mxolisi Nkosi; and
Mr Monde Stratu (Immediate Past President).
In their own right, each one of the past presidents made strides to take the Institute
forward as they were able to smoothly hand over the presidential baton to one
another, thereby enabling iLGM to remain functional hence we have also found it
still alive.
Again, I firmly believe that iLGM was established for such a time as this! Within this vein, I
would like us to observe a moment of silence in honour of all local government managers
and practitioners who since 1994 lost their lives because of their work in the sector; there
are many such local government heroes and heroines that we can vividly remember in
almost every province of our country.
May their departed souls rest in peace!
To the incoming NEC colleagues and all of us who will serve in the Provincial Executive
Committees (PECs) and District Executive Committees (DECs) of iLGM from now
henceforth, let us learn from the greatest Teacher and Leader of all time Who shared the
following nuggets of wisdom on leadership:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great
exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you, but whoever desires
to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first
among you, let him be your slave.”—Matthew 20: 25-27.
As leaders of iLGM at all levels, that is, national, provincial or district, we must embrace a
culture of servant leadership. This means we must reach out to all fellow managers in local
government as their servants and slaves, for this is the yardstick and measure of true
leadership.
Then iLGM will enjoy groundswell membership support and hegemony in local government
in all districts and provinces of our country. Then a new cliché will be birthed which says:
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“When iLGM sneezes, the whole local government sphere catches the cold.” And perhaps
an even better cliché which says: “When iLGM speaks, the whole local
government sphere listens.”
We propose that an organisational strategic thrust that should inform the work of the
incoming NEC of iLGM must be anchored on the following five (5) pillars:
(i) Massive membership, hegemony and revival of provincial chapters of iLGM.
(ii) Financial sustainability of the Institute.
(iii) Research and professionalisation of the sector.
(iv) Tenure of municipal managers and section 56 managers; and
(v) Delinking of competency-based results from remuneration packages of
municipal managers and section 56 managers.
Pillar Number 1: Massive membership, hegemony and revival of provincial chapters
of iLGM
It is our intention to embark on a nationwide recruitment campaign so that the overwhelming
majority of local government managers will call iLGM their professional home. We seek to
stake our claim for hegemony in local government so that we will have a voice, given the
fact that we serve as advisors to our respective municipal councils and are responsible for
the implementation of legislation, regulations, policies, resolutions and procedures
governing our municipalities. It is noteworthy that our political principals, municipal
Councillors, have a solid voice that articulates their aspirations, namely, SALGA and this
arrangement is even enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic hence organised local
government is entrenched in our fledgeling democracy.
Yet, local government managers—especially municipal managers and managers who report
directly to municipal managers—are almost invariably an ‘endangered species’, so to speak.
Let us be candid about the vulnerability of managers operating in local government: When
we attend SALGA events, including conferences, seminars, and assemblies, it becomes
clear that SALGA is an organisation of our political principals.
The moot question is: Who represents managers in local government? The answer, going
forward, shall be: iLGM is the representative institute of all local government managers in
South Africa. To achieve this ideal, we have to act differently! We must be purpose-driven!

To this end, we seek to position iLGM as a powerhouse and umbrella body for all
professional associations operating in the local sphere of government. This goal is not an
ambition fueled by mere self-aggrandizement. Rather, it is an ideal propelled by empirical
evidence that in the municipal workplace all professionals work together as a team that is
coordinated in one central office of a municipal manager.
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Empirical evidence points out that all professsions represented in the context of a
municipality can and have aspired to ultimately assume the office of accounting officer.
It is noteworthy that there is a vacuum prevailing in organised mentoring and succession.
The current state of affairs in local government has emanated from a leadership paralysis
which in turn emanates from lack of coordination for succession planning. With an iLGM
that will have all existing professional associations operating as its (iLGM’s) professional
chapters, we will bolster the collective impact local government managers make in the
sector. We must revive provincial chapters in all the nine provinces of our country. The
NEC of iLGM will play a pivotal role in this regard. In turn, the PECs, once elected, will play
a pivotal role in mobilising the establishment of district chapters in all districts of our country.
To deliver on Pillar 1, we must be pragmatic and concede to the fact that we need dedicated
support in the form of a national organiser and fundraiser as iLGM does not have the
financial muscle to create institutional support of its own at this point in time. Further details
in this regard will be looked into expeditiously by the NEC. We are eager to succeed in the
delivery on this pillar as success in this regard will be a stepping stone to success in the next
four pillars.
Pillar Number 2: Financial sustainability of the Institute
As NEC of iLGM, we will engage with SALGA and lobby our respective municipal councils
to support a principle of flate rate financial contribution by all municipalities towards the
membership of iLGM.
For instance, a flat rate annual fee of R20 000.00 per municipality could go a long way in
stabilising the financial position of iLGM. Needless to say, a well-funded iLGM will usher in
a membership friendly organisation underpinned by high performance and value addition.
Local government history does reflect that SALGA was previously a struggling organization
until it started getting support from the national fiscus.
Efforts of a national organizer and fundraiser will also contribute towards the implementation
of Pillar 2. To this end, we seek to engage the services of our past presidents whenever
possible. The past glory of iLGM must be relived and even surpassed. Our beloved Institute
deserves to be salvaged.
We have previously crafted good strategies which unfortunately have gathered dust over the
years. We now need action! There is potential to professionallly engage the private sector
to partner with iLGM. The time for action is now!
Pillar Number 3: Research and professionalisation of the sector
As an Institute for professionals, we seek to transform iLGM into a researh powerhouse.
This we will do by working in collaboration with a number of our members who are experts
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in research. We are very clear that we seek to achieve hegemony on policy development
and implementation.
On professionalisation of local government, it is noteworthy that much work has already
been done in this regard, even though iLGM has not been acknowledged for the pivotal role
it has played to advance the cause of professionalisation.
We will engage with the COGTA Ministry, with a view to intensifying lobbying and advocacy
for the implementation of local government professionalisation.
Pillar Number 4: Tenure of municipal managers and section 56 managers
We call for the amendment of the section 57 of the Municipal Systems Act so that it will allow
the term of office of municipal managers to 10 years and managers directly accountable to
municipal managers to serve on a permanent basis. This approach will stabilize local
government. It is an open secret that local government is under siege.
The public is often told a blatant lie that local government struggles to fill vacancies for senior
managers. This is a blatant lie because the sector is inherently weakened by the legislative
framework that basically empowers municipal councils to willy nilly discard senior managers
for the sake of political expediency and creation of an environment that encourages the
prevailing state of Local Government. The current system invokes fear in the municipal
space and has compromised many Senior managers and contributed to the soaring
statistics of unemployed and yet experienced graduates.
The chaos that prevails in local government administration in this regard is by no means
prevalent in the national and provincial spheres of government. The over-regulation of local
government is repressive and sickening, to say the least. In public administration (which
strangely excludes local government) directors general (DGs) and deputy directors general
(DDGs) are well protected as the DDGs are permanently employed and this explains why
the other two spheres have stable administrations and local government tends to be
characterised by unstable administrations. To say the 5-year contractual employment of
municipal managers and section 56 managers is meant for enhancing performance and
protection of municipalities against poorly performing managers is a lame excuse as labour
legislation has provision for dealing with incapacity. To exacerbate the situation, as iLGM
we know of many Managers who were high performers but whose employment contracts
were not renewed.
Pillar Number 5: Delinking of competency-based results from remuneration
packages of municipal managers and section 56 managers
The linking of competency-based assessment results with the remuneration of municipal
managers and section 56 managers is evil and must be eradicated. This system is evil
because it is inherently a draconian measure which undermines the capacity of local
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government as an employer to determine the remuneration of its employees, that is,
municipal managers and section 56 managers.
Competency assessments should enable the employer of a senior manager in local
government to know the strengths and weaknesses of their new incumbent and support her
/ him in crafting and implementing an appropriate personal development plan. Under the
prevailing circumstances some municipal managers earn remuneration packages that are
lower than those of senior managers reporting to them.
It neither takes a brainer nor rocket scientist to realise that this is chaotic and is tantamount
to administrative injustice. To simply foist unjust regulations down our throats does not do
local government any good.
Instead, you find senior managers maliciously complying simply because they are
vulnerable. Again, it is noteworthy that this inherent administrative injustice excludes the
national and provincial spheres of government. This is typical of the chaos narrated by
George Orwell in his book titled Animal Farm, where “Some animals are more equal than
others.”
Key stakeholders to be met by the NEC of iLGM to advance our position:
As the new national leadership of iLGM, we are determined to meet with the following key
stakeholders:
(i) South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
It is crucial that we meet with SALGA, with a view to finding common ground especially as
regards the mandate iLGM was founded to fulfill and the niche we seek to carve in order to
accomplish the founding objectives of the Institute. We have a glorious heritage which saw
iLGM having a seat in the NEC of SALGA hence key projects such as the very first 8-month
post-graduate Chief Executives Course was jointly delivered by SALGA, iLGM and the
University of Durban-Westville (now UKZN) in 1997; this became a very popular course
which was attended by Chief Executives (now MMs) and aspirant Chief Executives from
across the length and breadth of our country. It is noteworthy that the course became very
popular and started attracting leading municipal Councillors alike.
The course became a trendsetter for the myriad management and leadership development
courses that are currently offered in the sector.

(ii) Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
We will be meeting with the Minister of COGTA as her Department has a crucial role to play
in ensuring that the chaos alluded to above is curbed and sanity prevails in our sector. It is
high time that legislation was used as an enabler for stimulating the attainment of the objects
of local government as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996,
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instead of it being relegated to a punitive instrument for settling scores with perceived
political foes. We seek to work in partnership with the Minister of COGTA and her
Department, especially in our quest to implement professionalisation of local government.
(iii) Minister of Public Administration
Meeting with the Minister of Public Administration will enable iLGM to robustly engage with
him on the positive role his Ministry and Department ought to play in ensuring that
administrative justice is not confined to the national and provincial spheres of government,
but to reach local government too. Reference to a high performing, efficient and effective
public administration envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic expressly includes the
local sphere of government too.
Yet, we have historically seen the Ministry of Public Administration discriminating against
local government managers by endorsing repressive regulations which have been
sponsored by COGTA. The adage ‘Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be
done’ is apt in expressing our expectation on the meeting we will hold with the Minister of
Public Administration.
Strategic Planning Session
We will soon be convening a strategic planning session which will provide flesh to the
skeletal articulation we have made in this address. We firmly believe in collective wisdom
and look forward to that session with the newly elected NEC of iLGM.
Dear friends, colleagues, and comrades, let me conclude by thanking all of you for your
presence at this our AGM. I also thank our CEO and his team for the logistical support they
have given us in professionallly convening this AGM.
The wise words of our country’s Democratic Government Founding President, Madiba,
must be remembered by all of us as we look forward to embark on a 24-month journey of
turning our Institute around:
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
It is now my privilege and honour to declare that the 2020 elective AGM of iLGM is officially
opened.
God bless you all! God bless South Africa and her people! I thank you!
[Ends]

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