The performance appraisal function in selected South African local authorities.
In this dissertation a study is undertaken of the performance appraisal function in South African local authorities. Local authorities in South Africa are the third tier of government and are subordinate to the other two tiers, namely, the central and provincial authorities. They are established to render a variety of goods and services to the local community and to contribute to the national goal of community welfare. In the light of changing circumstances in South Africa, communities are becoming more advanced and complex and are placing new demands on local authorities everyday. Therefore, local authorities must ensure that their limited human resources are utilised as efficiently and effectively as possible to achieve an acceptable quality of life for the local community. Thus, municipal personnel administration plays an important role in contributing to the welfare of the local community. Municipal personnel administration comprises of several component activities such as personnel provisioning, support functions, training and development, and personnel utilisation functions. Performance appraisal falls within ambit of the personnel utilisation function and plays a pivotal role in promoting the improved· productivity of municipal personnel. In view of the aforementioned, this study investigates the implementation of the performance appraisal function in South African local authorities. The research was necessitated by the fact that local authority employees make up 14,8 percent of public sector employment and up to 70 percent of a local authority's operating budget is allocated for staff expenditure. Therefore, it is important that local authorities have an efficient and effective work force, and one of the ways this can be achieved is through the implementation of the performance appraisal function. Furthermore, very little research has been undertaken on the performance appraisal function as an activity within municipal personnel administration. Municipal employees must ensure that all activities constituting the performance appraisal function be implemented in terms of the dictates of the generic administrative, management, functional and auxiliary and instrumental activities. They must also adhere to the normative guidelines which have direct bearing on the performance appraisal function, such as legislative supremacy, maintenance of public accountability, efficiency and effectiveness, respect for community values and ethical standards. The study undertaken on the performance appraisal function in South African local authorities is viewed from a theoretical and operational perspective as follows: performance appraisal and municipal administration; theoretical perspectives of the performance appraisal function; nature and content of performance appraisal systems; the performance appraisal function in South African local authorities; and developing an acceptable performance appraisal system for South African local authorities. The performance appraisal systems at local authorities studied, are primarily viewed within an administrative frame of reference. Particular attention is focused on the generic administrative, management, functional and auxiliary and instrumental activities, as well as the normative factors of public administration. The efficient and effective utilisation of municipal personnel resources, especially in regard to their placement, development and promotion through the use of the performance appraisal function, is stressed. In the light of the aforementioned the following recommendations are made: (i) that municipal councils and high-ranking officials give due regard to the importance of the performance appraisal function within the context of municipal personnel administration; (ii) introduction of the performance management and development programme as postulated in chapter 6; (iii) review of performance appraisal on an ongoing basis (at least once a year) within an administrative frame of reference with particular attention to the following: legislative measures; policy directives; organising; financing; staffing; determining systems and procedures; and exercising control; (iv) that supervisors (appraisers) in municipal departments undergo training to implement the appraisal system and to keep abreast with the latest developments in the field; and (v) the creation of a separate department or section to deal specifically with the performance appraisal function.