The COVID-19 Impact on Municipalities: The Case of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Municipalities: An organisational perspective

Thursday 25 February 2021: 10am – 12pm

Content Focus Area: How has the workplace changed in unforeseen ways?

 

Presentation Abstract: The aim of this study was to understand the impact of COVID – 19 in KZN Municipalities from an organisational perspective. Contextual dimensions of the contingency theory (derived from organisational theories) informed this study. KZN Municipal Managers and Administrators were selected as respondents to the questionnaire developed to elicit information. The selection was based on the knowledge that this group has on COVID-19, including their role. The study concludes on key issues – that organisational behaviour contributes positively on the flattening of COVID -19 curve. However, it was clear that, within the majority of municipalities, both
employees and councillors shared the same belief about the impact of this pandemic on organisational behaviour.

Secondly, municipal goals and objectives are found to have been affected as service delivery and attainment of set goals were compromised. It is the view of the municipalities that investment in technology even beyond COVID –
19 is key as it has improved performance of municipalities during this period. Municipalities experienced levels of unemployment and absence of business continuity, where some businesses could not survive during this period. This has led to inability by some ratepayers to pay for municipal rates and services. This study further recommends that municipalities should develop standing protocols that will ensure there is ongoing culture of conformity during times of disasters. Municipalities need to proactively train their staff, councillors and communities so that the impact of disasters can be minimised when they occur. It has also been very clear that
there is an expectation for better and effective leadership direction and it was clear that many municipalities were found wanting in this regard.
Therefore, there is a need for training on leading during crises or natural disasters, a programme directed at political and administrative leadership.

Municipalities need to budget for disasters and this budget should be reserved for cases of disaster. There is a need to seriously rethink the sizes of municipalities in terms of the numbers of employees employed. Without a doubt it has become clear that many municipalities are overstaffed. This reconfiguration should not be limited to staff but also include other resources like office space, vehicles and equipment. Lastly, it is inevitable that all municipalities must embrace the 4th Industrial Revolution to sustain the technological culture and opportunity presented by Covid-19.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Leadership style,
  2. Employee behaviour
  3. Systemic thinking

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Dr Vuyiwe Tsako

Dr Vuyiwe Tsako

Excelsior Research and Business Consulting: Municipal Manager

Dr. Tsako possesses a PhD in Public and Admin Management, Masters in Labour Relations and Human Resources, Honours in Business Management and BCom in Industrial Psychology. Dr. Tsako has more than 15 years experience in the executive level and mostly within HR environment.

Speaking Experience:

  1. Ethekwini Metropolitan municipality, Women Indaba 8000 female employees Challenges facing Women in employment
  2. Institute For Local Government Managers, IGR in KZN municipalities, August 2019, 
  3. WITS School of Governance, Impact of political instability on service delivery, September 2020