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Local Governance Expert Involved in International Public Administration Conference

July 27, 2017

 UKZN’s Professor Purshottama Reddy (left) with Minister Moussa Abu Zeid, the President of Palestine’s General Personnel Council.

Representing the African region, as a member of the Board of Management of the International Association of Schools and Institutes of Administration (IASIA) UKZN’s Local Governance expert Professor Purshottama Reddy presented a paper, and chaired two sessions of the Working Group on Subnational Governance and Development and a BRICS Panel on Training and Development at  IASIA’s 2017  Conference in Palestine.

The Conference themed: “Public Administration’s Role in Consolidating Post Conflict States”, was hosted by the General Personnel Council of Palestine, the Middle East Network for Public Administration (MENAPAR) and IASIA.

Reddy’s paper titled: “Building and Developing Local Government in Post Conflict States: The Case of South Africa”, highlighted that the country’s transition to democracy, unlike any other African state, had been very progressive and positive.

‘South Africa has introduced a “world class” policy and legislative framework for local governance, but is hampered by poor service delivery, mammoth developmental backlogs, corruption, “cadre deployment”, weak financial management and ineffective performance management, resulting in ongoing public protests against bad governance,’ said Reddy of UKZN’s School of Management, Information Technology and Governance.

‘The main source of the problems is the politicisation of local government and weak leadership. There is a need for strong political and management will to address these issues in terms of taking decisive action,’ he said.

Reddy, who is also IASIA’S Vice-President of Programmes and Project Director of the Working Group on Subnational Governance, tackled key issues emanating from the three sessions of the Working Group which included lack of accountability, limited access to information, poor engagement; rising corruption and deficient leadership.

Recommendations from the session included the need for political will to implement reform and change, skills development of municipal functionaries, information access to facilitate transparency, and accountability and enhanced citizen engagement.

The BRICS Panel on Training and Development highlighted best practices and lessons, both good and bad. It was proposed that a research project be initiated by IASIA focusing on training and development in the BRICS countries.

Reddy said although he was initially concerned about travelling to the high risk area of Palestine, he described the experience as enjoyable and enriching, even after spending six hours at the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian borders on entering and three hours when departing - despite having a VIP pass.

‘I am of the view that Palestine and South Africa have a similar political history, but the latter could learn from the former in terms of good and poor governance. More specifically, in the case of South Africa, the culture of corruption has to be rooted out, politicisation of the public service has to be curbed and merit should be a key consideration in recruitment, appointment and promotion in the public sector, as emphasised in the National Development Plan,’ added Reddy.

Words by: Thandiwe Jumo

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