Reverend Jan Scholtz
As far as the strongly felt organisational goal of public service is concerned, it should be most evident in the local and regional sphere of government since it represents the place in government where people’s most basic needs should be taken care of. High levels of underdeveloped communities, especially in far-off, remote and rural communities, mean that there is often a high level of dependence on government. There are many policy directives that emphasise the need for a strong sense of service delivery in local and regional government. These include the provisions in the Local Authority Act, section 30, and Regional Council Act, section 28, stating that local and regional government should ensure the provision of services to local-regional communities in a sustainable manner, and that services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias. Despite these provisions and other legislative prescriptions regarding a service orientation, there are many views that suggest that local-regional government falls short as far as service orientation is concerned.
The tensions in the political-administrative interface highlights one of the key challenges to local – regional government performing its tasks effectively and efficiently. (Namibian Sun, 6 July 2021). This implies a real concern, as it is imperative for administrations and political leaders to have a common goal as far as service to the people is concerned. (Code of Conduct of members, Section 3)
Strong external cross pressures exerted by various users of the public service are producing a kind of common enemy. In the case of local – regional government, it suggests a strong system of accountability that works effectively to make sure that municipalities and regional councils are constantly reminded and held to account as far as their obligations are concerned. Therefore, the Local and Regional Councils Act provides the notions that the councils should work together with all sectors of society, including citizens, business and labour, in implementing municipal – regional strategic plans.
It is imperative that good human resources and career development practices to maximise human potential must be cultivated. This goes to the core of what human capital development should achieve: maximising the potential of the employees who make up local – regional government organisations by ensuring that there are sufficient career paths for those who perform as far as organisational objectives are concerned. There are, however, too many concerns expressed in this regard, suggesting that once again, local and regional councils in Namibia might be falling short. According to studies, problems experienced by municipalities and regional councils include “procedures followed when appointing staff members”. When procedures are not correctly applied in the appointment of new employees, one can draw the conclusion that a wrong person may lead to ineffective performance. Madumo (2015:163) suggests that “often, municipal officials fail to perform because they do not expect any punitive action against them”. This once again refers to how problematic the political – administrative interface may be, and how political influence in human resources issues can be to the detriment of local and regional councils achieving their goals.
Local and regional councils are unique as decision- making takes place from a constitutional and legislative framework at various levels, and in a local and regional context, it can be divided into political management, reflecting the significant role of elected political office-bearers as well as ordinary members of local communities and community organisations in local and regional decision-making on the one hand, and the operational management of the local and regional government’s functional unit as a day-to-day operational entity on the other hand. Tensions in the political – administrative interface and indeed various dimensions in this relationship are one of the significant challenges facing local and regional government in Namibia. (New Era 6 July 2021). While active citizenry is complimenting the role of political representatives, it is important in the management of local and regional councils. It is imperative to remember that there should still be significant reliance on the knowledge, experience and skills of suitably appointed officials to ensure that local and regional councils perform their daily operational activities at the optimal level.
In conclusion, as far as Namibia’s local and regional government environment is concerned, there seem to be established guidelines in place from a legislative framework to ensure a human capital core that would make local and regional councils work. If these guidelines are not applied, it creates a problem as far as achieving the goals of the organisation. In order to improve local and regional councils in Namibia, empirical research would have to be conducted to determine the link between human capital and organisational strategy in a local and regional context specifically.