A decade of performance management at local level : the case of the Saldanha Bay Municipality : 2005 to 2015
Du Plessiss, Abraham Erasmu
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South Africa is plagued by municipal service delivery protest actions on a perennial basis. This observable fact is confirmed in the municipal audit reports of the Auditor General (AG) for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years. One of the reasons cited for these poor audit results by the office of the Auditor General is problems linked to the management of performance, or the absence of a proper Performance Management System (PMS). This study aims to establish why a municipality finds it difficult to develop, implement and sustain a proper PMS, and what factors contribute to an efficient PMS in a municipality. This research is based on a case study of a category B-municipality, namely the Saldanha Bay Municipality and explores various factors necessary to ensure the effective implementation of a performance management system. The primary aim of the study is to identify and discuss the negative and the positive factors regarding the case of the Saldanha Bay Municipality over a period of 10 years. It analyses the PMS problem areas and endeavours to understand what contributed to the Auditor General’s “clean audit” finding in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial periods. The study utilized the case study approach as this is arguably the most appropriate approach to understand and interpret the phenomenon that was studied. The study also concentrates on both primary and secondary sources of data. Secondary sources include books, journal articles and government reports whilst the primary sources include personal observations, structured interviews and a survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire was adapted from the de Waal and Counet (2009) questionnaire and applied to the management / staff of this municipality. This instrument is appropriate in that it allowed the researcher to probe and explore the 31 performance categories against which the implementation of a Performance Management System in the Saldanha Bay Municipality was assessed. The key findings of this study, especially in the first 5 years of the decade in discussion, indicate that the lack of management commitment, leadership and support played a role in the problems related to the implementation of a PMS. Other factors that were also evident were the lack of enough time and resources for the implementation of a PMS and the lack of a comprehensive change management process during the implementation phase. A fourth finding was that the PMS did not present enough benefits for management, particularly in their daily management activities, which resulted in a culture of compliance, rather than a culture of performance.