Any organisation’s functioning is dependent on the people involved in it and
their ability to optimally work towards the organisation’s mandate. In a highly
competitive world, career success and accompanying rewards play a significant role
in the lives of individuals. In return for contributing to the organisational mandate,
people would like to believe and feel that they are equally rewarded. These rewards
may of course take on many forms, what is important is that people want to feel
appreciated in their work environment.
In outlining the basic values and principles governing public administration,
Section 195(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996
provides for the promotion and maintenance of a high standard of professional
ethics. Section 195(1)(h) furthermore provides for the cultivation of good human
resource management and career development practices to maximise human
potential. Linked to these constitutional provisions, chapter 13 of the National
Development Plan Vision 2030, deals with the strategic development and service
delivery blueprint of the South African government, for the creation of a capable
state, promoting the notion of “making the public service and local government
careers of choice”.
For any organisation to be regarded as capable, it can be assumed that it has
to achieve results attached to the functions associated with such an organisation.
According to a study conducted by Matebesi (2015), protest action by local
communities in South Africa had increased from approximately 10 in 2004 to
111 in 2010 to 173 in 2012. In the first nine months of 2014, 134 demonstrations
were recorded. The study defined service delivery protests as “collective action
taken by a community which was directed at a local municipality over poor or
inadequate provision of basic services”. Based on this study, one could easily be
tempted to argue against the capability of local government organisations in South
Africa. Although it would obviously be an unbalanced approach to use the number of service delivery protests as the only yardstick to measure local government
capability, it has to be recognised that the ability of South African municipalities to
provide in the basic service delivery and developmental needs of local communities,
is under constant scrutiny. The results of the recently concluded local government
elections, in which the governing African National Congress lost control in key
municipalities in the country, are seen by many, as an additional indication that the
supposed recipients of municipal services are not satisfied with the performance of
This article will, on the basis of the above, examine the issue of human
capital development in local government. It will attempt to ascertain how career
professionals in municipalities feature in the seemingly challenging environment
of local government. The article will furthermore, based on career development
literature, determine, what a career of choice as outlined in the NDP, constitutes.
The ultimate aim is to use the theoretical foundations of this article for follow-up
empirical research in local government.