Master’s Degree for Estcourt Mayor
The need for practical and theoretical skills vital for a community leader to tackle developmental challenges faced by the community is what motivated the Mayor of Estcourt, Mr Bongani Dlamini, to complete a Masters in Public Administration degree.
Dlamini said as a public servant and society leader, possessing this qualification strategically empowered him with the knowledge to understand and effectively execute integrated service delivery.
‘My qualification provides a more nuanced study of the interface between politicians and the bureaucracy as well as the public service and the private sector. It capacitates me to understand the need for an effective government and beyond that, how it can be achieved through improved co-ordination and planning efforts of the developmental state by means of a planning entity to ensure faster change,’ he said.
Growing up in Estcourt’s rural area of uMshayazafe, Dlamini is familiar with the challenges facing rural communities hence he chose to explore the area of Integrated Development Planning for his thesis which was titled: “Evaluating the Implementation of the Integrated Development Plan with Reference to Umtshezi Local Municipality”.
‘An important aspect of a successful developmental state is investment in its people. My research through community engagements have shown that in many cases the process leading towards the development of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) is done just for compliance sake in many municipalities,’ he said.
‘The intended impact of the IDP is not fully realised since government in all three spheres plan individually, resulting in duplication of programmes or having projects that are white elephants. Where there is no robust engagement with communities and relevant stakeholders, there is little or no sense of ownership and involvement in the country’s development agenda.’
Keeping in mind that staff professional development is one of the municipality’s key priorities, Dlamini is leading by example when it comes to proving that a postgraduate qualification is a worthwhile qualification.
‘I recommend that everyone should at least have one postgraduate qualification that is why we empower our staff through a number of incentives including sabbaticals, bursaries and generous study leave. This experience has made me more aware of the need for institutional support for staff members,’ he said.