Accelerating performance

Johannesburg executive mayor, Parks Tau

Johannesburg executive mayor, Parks Tau

The City of Johannesburg honoured its new board leaders at its first Board Leadership Awards ceremony held in Sandton on February 26 2016. The award recipients were all top executives from the 11 companies contracted to the city, who have been on an extensive training programme since February 2015 towards assisting the city with better service delivery and communication with its citizens.

“The City of Johannesburg adopted the Growth and Development Strategy 2040 in 2011, to enable the city to achieve its developmental goals, improve the living conditions of its residents and position Johannesburg in the global market. This is part of our drive to continually improve our city, responding to our key mandate to continue to be a world-class African city,” said city manager Trevor Fowler.

“There are critical factors that have to be put in place, including resiliance to address social and environmental issues, sustainability to weather economic cycles, climate change, disasters and rapid change, to innovation and livability through creating a society accepting of its diversity and growth for people who live and desire to live in Johannesburg.”

Fowler said a critical outcome is to have a high-performing metropolitan government that proactively contributes to and builds a sustainable, socially-inclusive, locally-integrated and globally-competitive Gauteng City Region. “Municipal boards contribute to these outcomes by providing leadership and driving a culture of good governance.

“Member of the King committee, Mohammed Adam, asserts that good governance is essentially about effective and responsible leadership, based on an ethical foundation and realising the ethical relationship you have with society and your impact with society. This evening is aimed at honouring [those] leaders who have committed and continue to strive to be the leaders Mohammed Adam outlines.”

Religious leaders

Awards were received from mayor Parks Tau’s wife, Mayoress Pilisiwe Twala-Tau. Winners are all non-executive directors of their entities and were Dr Keith Adams, Pikitup; Dereleen James, Buyi Majola, Molefi Olifant and Joel Chauke from the Johannesburg Social Housing Company; Bernice Dollie and Aubrey September of Johannesburg City Parks & Zoos; Eugene Sinclair from Johannesburg City Theatres; Neo Motlabane of Johannesburg Water; Sophonia Tsekedi, Johannesburg Market and Ceniva Kai from the Johannesburg Property Company.

Spiritual and religious beliefs are very much part of the culture of Gauteng communities and most of the award winners were pastors, bishops or religious counsellors. Father Molefi Olifant said: “This award and programme affirm my role as a community leader and development practitioner, as well [as] demonstrating that church leaders are needed to drive the agenda of moral conscience, ethical leadership and promoting common values.

“It is very important that all of us represent the interest of communities on the ground, addressing critical issues, and we must ensure that the voice of the citizen is heard in the boardroom.”

Stakeholder consultation

Fowler said in his keynote address: “The City of Johannesburg prides itself on being a learning organisation and one that is able to change current behaviours and mindsets, informed by experiences.”

He said the city has entered into partnerships with academics and research institutions to ensure the culture of learning is realised.

“The city’s executive management enrolled for an executive leadership programme with the University of the Witwatersrand to sharpen knowledge pools and collectively strengthen the ability to lead the city. The Board Leadership Programme was adopted by the city as a lever to synchronise the board members’ vast experience and international knowledge with the complex and unique nature of the City of Johannesburg.”

According to Fowler, the city is already realising the benefits of the programme, such as clean governance and improved audits, and financial prudence and sound financial management, with the city now “financially stable and it maintaining a positive and respectable credit rating with Fitch Ratings (AA+) and Moody’s, despite a difficult economic climate”.

Stimulating the economy

Fowler said the economic slowdown is placing severe stress on Johannesburg residents and this, in turn, is affecting business and government. The city’s obligation to continue to drive the South African economy is under close scrutiny.

“The finance minister’s austerity measures and their impact on the consumer means we need to address the deficit and shift the spending from internal government to address socioeconomic needs and measures to stimulate education and the economy.

“Collectively we need to ensure affordability of tariffs and continue with infrastructure expansion spending to stimulate economic growth. This board’s leadership plays a critical role in driving the developmental service delivery programme,” he concluded.

Supporting Fowler’s presentation, group head of governance for the city Bryne Maduka said: “Learning is a constant. With the economic meltdown worldwide, we must not drop our guard when it comes to good governance. We are in a good position at the moment, but must continue to pursue best practices.

“One of the biggest [issues] is sustainability of financial resources, and if entities are governed well they will achieve sustainability. This programme empowers these board members, keeping them abreast of global and local trends.”