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Community work programs are a social responsibility and a financial initiative undertaken by government to provide employment in a manner that benefits the whole community.

South Africa has a high unemployment rate. Most unemployed people are willing to work, and some are skilled and educated. The fault lies not with them, but with the lack of available job opportunities available.

Community work programs are viewed as a temporary solution to the unemployment problem. It aims to provide a reliable income in the temporary capacity. Participants involved in community work programs, work approximately 6-8 days a month. This is intended to provide financial support and assistance while the participants search for permanent employment.

Community work programs employ people to work on projects which benefit the community, examples of a community work program includes: agricultural projects, construction, road reparations and garden maintenance.

In Pefferville, there are active community work programs where participants work on repairing water pipes, storm water drains and fences. They also focus on maintaining facilities at public schools. In other regions there are community work programs that focus on education and healthcare.

Community works programs are a successful social responsibility initiative providing the employees of this program with much needed income. However, question of whether or not community work programs are a good investment or not arises.

Before we can determine whether or not community work programs are a good form of investment from a local government perspective, we must ascertain what a good investment entails.

The answer as to what makes a good investment varies, but there is one common thread among all good investments. This is that a maximum return is to be made from the initial investment. Another way of phrasing it, is to allow one lump sum of money to generate a continues stream of money or return.

Within the sphere of local government, it is important that investments made produce good returns so that the community can benefit holistically. Investments made by local government that yield profitable returns assist with easing the popular economic problem where there is limited funds required to sustain a growing supply of community needs. Good investments from local government are from a financial management which ensures future revenue.

Local government also have social responsibilities to take care of, such as lowering unemployment, maintaining roads and infrastructure and also keeping community parks safe and clean.
Provisions need to be made in the local government budget in order to fund these social responsibility initiatives which are aimed at improving the daily lives of the community. Community work progams is intended to be a fusion of two local governments responsibilities, working together to improve the community.

The intended purpose of community work programs is to reduce the unemployment rate performing comminuty services, thus killing two birds with one stone. The tasks assigned to these employees, would have probably been outsourced to private companies if the community work programs were not in place. These companies would most likely charge a higher fee. By making use of community work progams, the government saves money which would have been otherwise spent on an outsourced company.

The employment rate would remain the same if an outsourced company was used. Community work programs empower unemployed workers by not only providing them with an income. But also a sense of achievement and involvement in the community. In many cases it gives employees a sense of self- worth and pride. A higher employment rate, in theory, leads to lower crime rates and thus less pressure on police. The ripple effect is evident.

Which brings us back to our initial question, are community work programs a good financial investment? The answer is visible in the ripple effect. The budget of the local government would have a division for reducing unemployment, and another for maintaining infrastructure and yet another for social responsibility. Community work programs bring the divisions together under a single cost structure. The financial implications of this, is reduced cost and an improved community. Not only does community work programs allow local government to save, but also improve the community. The returns from community work programs are not only financial, but make a difference in the community as a whole, creating a positive ripple effect.

Proper financial management depends on a number of factors.
Study further on the topic here:
http://financefornonfinancialmanagers.blogspot.co.za/

And here is a good video covering public finance

In any company or business, employee productivity ad competence plays a key role in the smooth running and efficiency of the company. It is for this reason that large private businesses spend money on employee team building activities and employee training seminars. Some companies even go as far as doing regular employee satisfaction surveys. Companies do this to ensure that employees are satisfied in the workplace, because if the employees are happy they are more likely to be productive. Satisfied employees are less likely to be absent from work, late for work, or idle during working hours. This human capital is a vital component in the success of the business.
employees-local-government
In local government the human capital factor is even more important. The employees of local government ideally need to have a mind-set devoted to putting public needs first. An employee in this sphere of government also needs to adopt a unique skill set and mentality compared to the rest of society. A local government employee needs to have dignity, integrity, be conscientious and courteous to members the public as they work closest with the public. Local Government staff needs to be mindful that there daily action or inaction affects the community, and for that reason should strive to provide the best level service and cause minimal inconvenience to the public. If employees are equipped with the correct skills and have relevant values, then issues such as fraud, corruption, theft and mismanagement of resources can be avoided.

Member’s of the public want to feel confident in the local authority. It is the local government employee’s responsibility to instill that confidence in the hearts of the community. Quick efficient service is one method of obtaining this objective; another would be by being transparent. Transparency is important in every regard especially concerning their financial transactions.

It is one matter to provide hassle-free service delivery, but this is not the main task. The main challenge is transparency. The local government receives funds from the national budget, from charging for certain services and in some cases incomes generated from other revenue streams. The public have questions regarding these incomes. Questions like: Are these funds being used for the benefit of the public? Why are certain services charged for? Are the most cost-effective methods being utilized? These are all questions that should be answered. Transparency in financial matters allows the public to understand what is occurring within local government and answers the most frequently asked questions which they may have.

The employees at local government level need to be able to provide these answers to the public with an open mind. They need to be able to take criticism and suggestions from the public in order to improve there services. Transparency holds employees accountable to the public and minimises the risk of fraud, corruption and funds mismanagement.

To get an idea of how the local government functions, let us understand the following: Each municipality has a council and it is within this council that financial decisions can be made. These decisions are then implemented by the local government staff and municipal officials. Each year, the council must submit a budget for the municipality as well as service delivery and development plans. The municipal manager is responsible for co-ordinating staff to implement the plans and programmes approved by the council. The submission of the budget and planning is compulsory and it is the start of transparency within local government.

It is the task of local government employees to ensure that the budget is strictly adhered to and that the community receives adequate service. The mismanagement of funds often leads to budget short falls and one of the items that become negated and removed from the budget to accommodate for these shortfalls, is the general maintenance and upkeep of existing infrastructure; issues like road maintenance, replacement of sewerage pipes, unblocking of public drains etc. these items gets put on the backburner while more pressing matters are attended to. However, when maintenance is put off for too long, eventually the infrastructure has to be completely replaced costing more than frequent maintenance would have. So adhering to the budget avoids this chain reaction.

A lot of emphasis is put on the responsibilities of the local government employee. Their work affects the public on a daily basis. It is thus vital that local government employees are thoroughly trained, and that they are instilled with the core values required for serving the public. This will aid them in providing quality, innovative and cost-effective service. The employee must always be mindful that the community’s needs come first, because only when the community’s needs are fulfilled, can the municipal employee regard themselves as successful.

Government in South Africa is divided into three spheres: National Government, Provincial government and Local government. The Local government is responsible for delivering services which have a direct impact on the public within a particular community. All three spheres are interlinked and interdependent. Inter-sphere spillages, both positive and negative are thus to be expected.

Decisions made at a local level, however minute it may seem, has the potential to bring about a ripple effect which will reach the two larger spheres of government. Good financial management and development projects at a local level may have substantially beneficial effects on the provincial and national spheres.

An example would be: local-government Service delivery within a particular municipal boundary is done effectively and cost-efficiently. Due to this cost effectiveness, there are excess funds which can be invested in an infrastructural enhancement project. This in turn creates employment opportunities in the area and lowers the unemployment rate. As a result of the lower unemployment rate, crime rates may be reduced and people may have a reduced need to make use of government grants. This also raises the countries GDP as there are more people contributing to the countries productivity. The ripple effect is thus apparent.

The example above is based on an ideal theoretical situation and in practice; many variables could affect the progress of the ripple effect into the larger spheres. What is important to note, however, is that small sustainable successes (within the local sphere) have the potential to improve larger issues that are faced at a national level. In the same breath it should be noted that miniscule failures at local level can also promote a ripple effect with disastrous results at national level.

The question we may be asking ourselves at this point is: What other actions can government implement at local level to take advantage of the ripple effect of successes, and how can we avoid the failures of the local government from spiralling upward to national level?

The first step would be to identify and understand the successes and failures of each local government. It may seem like a daunting task, however it should be the responsibility of each municipality to locate their strengths and weaknesses. These strengths and weaknesses must be established so that the ripple effect of its weaknesses can be reduced and solutions to fix these issues can be found. It is also important to establish what the municipalities strengths are so that the ripple effect of the strengths amplified.

An example of minimising the ripple effect of local government failure is similar to the example above where clarity is given to the ripple effect. However, I will provide you with another example for clarity.

A particular area is rampant with crime. The crime ranges from house break-ins, to hijackings and cable theft. The municipality recognises crime to be the main failure in the community. The local government is also spending exorbitant amounts of money servicing the cable theft problem. The reason behind the crime is discovered to be the high unemployment rate. Once root cause is known, government are able to start looking for solutions to eradicate or at least minimise the issue. The community members propose a community policing forum and establish it to be the eyes and ears of the police. The crime rate is reduced slightly once the community policing forum is established. The local government then decides to use the money they would have spent servicing cable theft, to implement a community work program which would attack the crime problem at the source.

The community work program involves providing unemployed individuals with a reliable income while they try to obtain long term employment. (www.cogta.gov.za/cwp)

Individuals who participate in this program are given work in different fields of community service such as: agriculture, construction and gardening, all which are aimed at holistically improving the community.

Taking these two steps: 1) the community policing forum and 2) the community work program, minimises the ripple effect of the failure in the local government namely, crime. By taking action, the local government hasn’t only managed to decrease the ripple effect of their failure, but also managed to turn failure into a success. A lower crime rate at local level reduces the total crime rate of the country.

It may seem like not much can be done with the 9% allocated to local governments from the national budget. However, decisions and financial uses within local government may be a catalyst for occurrences that affect the country as a whole on a national level.

The local government in our area is our closest connection to the government yet, most of us know little about our local government.
We know that they are responsible for service delivery and we are familiar with the suggestion box propped up on the counter at our local municipality, but is this the only communication that we as ordinary citizens are entitle to? We need to be aware that we as ordinary citizens can have an influence on financial and other decisions within the local government sphere.

Communities have rights which are supported by legislation. Community involvement is meant to be commonplace within the local government sphere. Communities have rights to make suggestions, recommendations and even the right to contribute to the decision making process. In this manner, individual citizens may have an impact on the allocation of local government finance.

The constitution states about local government aims: ‘to encourage the involvement of communities and community organizations in matter’s of local government’ Section 164 (4) (b) (www.ecngoc.co.za) and (www. Cogta.gov.za)

From this we can clearly gather that involvement in government is every citizen’s fundamental right.

Let me illustrate an example: A particular community was not happy with the speed motorists drove on a public main road. The reason for this is that the public road was adjacent to a public primary school. Children from the school made use of a pedestrian crossing on the main road, but motorists disregarded the pedestrian crossing and did not reduce speed on this road. Several children had been injured and because of this situation. To change the situation, the community signed a petition and approached the local government to urge them to improve the situation. Some members in the community proposed solutions such as: change the speed limit, put up signs, put up traffic lights at the crossing and put up speed bumps.

A few weeks later, local government funds were allocated to put up signs indicating that school children were crossing the road. Two speed bumps were also put up to slow the traffic before the pedestrian crossing.

This kind of community involvement allowed a problem to be overcome.

According to the national budget speech, 9% of the national budget is allocated to local government. The amount each municipality receives is determined in accordance with population growth and demand for services within each demarcated area.

The budget is in actual fact already influenced by the general public due to the fact that it is the public who are responsible for population growth and demand for services. The ordinary citizen thus has an impact regarding the allocation of funds.

The cost of services paid for: as well as what the money generated will be utilized for, is to be substantiated and transparent to the public. Transparency is believed to increase communal confidence in government and consequently stimulate a culture of public involvement and participation.

The interaction between local government and the public is a right that gives each person a voice in matters that concern and affect the community at large.

The core definition of democracy emphasizes that the people being ruled, should have a say in how they are being ruled. South Africa prides itself in being a democracy for two decades; however, the purity of democracy has been altered. Too often we take the freedom that has been hard fought for, for granted by ignoring opportunities handed to us by the South African Constitution.

Taking an active role in the way we as South Africans are governed can be viewed as both, an opportunity, and a responsibility. We are given the chance to make our voice heard, but we are also responsible for ensuring that we use our voice for the greater good of the community.

Most South Africans have common goals and desires with regard to how we want to be governed. We share common views regarding freedom, policy implementation, infrastructure, education and healthcare. If there are objectives that we want to attain, the only way to do this would be to bring it to the attention of the local government.

Once the needs of the pubic are known, the public then has a right to make suggestions and propose solutions to make the desired changes such as those provided in the example above. It is this kind of public involvement that will strengthen the democracy and augment public freedom.

Public involvement in local government is beneficial for all parties concerned. Constructive criticism and positive feedback allows the government to develop and improve, while it gives the public a voice. This type of communication between local government and the ordinary citizen is an emphasis of democracy in its purest form.