Could fewer management positions benefit the City?

Reducing management at the City of Johannesburg could swing both ways since the broader an area of responsibility is, the more superficial the expertise and involvement of a senior manager is likely to be.

This according to sociologist Dr Liela Groenewald, who added that a variety of factors will influence whether 12 senior managers can do a more effective job than 38, in serving a city with more residents than three South African provinces.

The City’s institutional review and staff establishment plan, which was drafted after the election of the new council, was approved by the council last week.

Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba said the reports presented a new structure to streamline the activities of the City. The new management structure now reports to the City manager, Dr Ndivho Lukhwareni.

The new structure will have 12 senior personnel, down from 38, focused on infrastructure services, social services, economic development, core functions like regulatory approvals, policy and compliance and finally, transversal and administration functions which support the City’s internal operations.

Groenewald is concerned that too lean a structure risks closing career paths, and dampening the morale of civil servants.

“Just as a bloated civil service is unnecessarily expensive, there is a price to be paid for restricting all input and responsibility to a controlled inner circle.”

The reintegration of municipal entities like City Power and Johannesburg Water – one of the first decisions approved by council with the new administration –receives significant attention in these documents as well.

Groenewald believes this can be expected to benefit all residents in the long run.

“Entities turn basic services which are crucial for residents’ livelihoods and survival into commodities managed for profit. Getting rid of these entities gives residents more democratic control and cuts costly duplication in management structure,” she said.

While it will take time for the cost and accountability benefits of this move to be felt by city residents, the long-term benefits are likely to be substantial and worthwhile, she said.

“The city administration can be commended for this improvement.”

ALSO READ: City must become more customer-centred – Mashaba 

Chantelle Fourie
Metro Reporter

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