Perspectives on good governance and transformational leadership: exploring financial viability in Okhahlamba Local Municipality.
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The South African public sector experiences a multitude of challenges, particularly due to maladministration, corruption, and unethical and amoral leadership practices. This leads to the haemorrhaging of public finances and hindrances to service delivery. The largest impact of these issues seem to occur at local government level. As a result, communities often stage violent service delivery protests in retaliation to non-delivery of services. Local government financial crises and other challenges may lead to a municipality being placed under provincial financial administration pursuant to Section 139(1)(a) – (c) of the South African Constitution. Okhahlamba Local Municipality was once placed under financial administration but subsequently recovered. This study identifies the factors that led to the Municipality being placed under financial administration and determines the strategic changes that transformed the Municipality’s financial position. The study explores the role of good governance in achieving Okhahlamba Local Municipality’s improved audit outcomes as well as how transformational leadership influences the implementation of good governance. This is a descriptive exploratory qualitative research study underpinned by the interpretivism and constructivism paradigms. In this embedded single case study, the financial viability of the Okhahlamba Local Municipality is the case embedded with administrative employees and political leaders as units of analysis. The studied was guided by a meta-theoretical framework in which financial viability was a dependent variable and elements of good governance and transformational leadership independent variables. Five senior managers and three political leaders were interviewed while nine long-service employees participated in a focus group. Data were analysed through integration of discourse analysis, content analysis, matrix analysis as well as thematic analysis approaches. The study found, among other things, that the implementation of good governance and transformational leadership has a positive influence on ensuring the financial viability of the municipality. The strategic establishment of pragmatic key units within the municipality, insertion of internal controls, ongoing commitment to clean audits and relationship-building between municipal management and employees were among the findings in the reformed Municipality. This demonstrates the interaction between good governance and transformational leadership. Conclusions, recommendations and policy implications are drawn from the findings which may be transferable to other similarly situated municipalities.