VUYO Mlokoti, the new group executive director in the corporate and shared services department, faces the crucial task of managing change in the municipality.
Vuyo Mlokoti, group head of corporate and shared servicesVuyo Mlokoti, group head of the corporate and shared services departmentOn a relentless quest to improve his department, Mlokoti is determined to get things moving in the municipality. This includes speeding up the “reshaping of the workforce, driving up performance and increasing efficiency”.
“I am a very assertive person, especially on a subject that I know very well. I am able to put across my views in a manner that everybody understands,” he says.
A shake up of the municipality’s management structure to clarify responsibilities is one of the many tasks he will undertake in the following months.
On Mlokoti’s plate now is a vast range of responsibilities, including labour relations, occupational health and safety management, human resources and shared services, finance, fleet and contract management, as well as administration and support.
Among many other concerns, the corporate and shared services unit is charged with managing employees’ leave, organising catering for mayoral functions and maintaining public conveniences.
“It is quite a challenging job,” he says. “It offers me an opportunity for growth and understanding the bigger scheme of things at hand.”
Mlokoti, who joined the City in February 2012, believes that his overseas experience makes him the right person for the job. While working for the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, between 2000 and 2009, he worked on various assignments in countries such as Sierra Leone, Bulgaria, Germany, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand.
He is passionate about issues like transparency and pulls no punches when talking about the bad image that the department has acquired over the years. Many City structures have lost confidence in the unit as it has failed to provide appropriate advice on issues concerning labour relations and human resources. “I want my department to be high performing and trusted. I want people to see corporate services for what is worth,” he points out.
Mlokoti describes himself as an outspoken person who does not sweep things under the carpet. “I am a brutally frank person, and to some extent people don’t like my openness. I am that person who is not afraid catch a bull by its horns.”
He admits that his frankness has not gone down well with all his colleagues. “I am not really surprised; it is something I have to live with. I like engaging people on matters that we disagree on,” he chuckles mischievously.
And he remains steadfast in creating and sustaining a work environment that consistently motivates employees to perform at their best.
In his first days on the job, Mlokoti resuscitated the City’s Labour Forum, which had been dysfunctional for the past four years. The forum deals with matters in the workplace.
He has also just finished presenting to the City leadership a revised system for fixed term contracts for some City employees after canvassing the views of managers and councillors. However, Mlokoti will not take any credit yet, rather thinking of the bridges still to be crossed.
And he is already busy with an even more ambitious campaign that is making corporate services the centre of institutional redesign. He is revamping the City’s performance management process.
“I want to put in place a structure for change, and continually check for barriers to it – especially the organisational structure, job descriptions, and performance. It is vital that these are in line with my vision and that of the City’s long terms plans,” he notes.
His other goal is develop an operational model that gives guidance on providing services to core departments and entities. “Institutionalised mediocrity poses a challenge to turn around times in terms of delivering services.”
Developing policies that contribute to efficiency in the City is another priority, and on behalf of the City manager, he is technically in charge of the restructuring process in the organisation. He describes it as an ambitious and challenging undertaking.
“Successful management of change is crucial to any organisation in order to survive and succeed in the present highly competitive and continuously evolving environment.”
His biggest challenges have been allaying the fears of employees who feel threatened by the scrutiny of their jobs or departments. Another challenge has been staff who are resistant to change, preferring to believe they know best.
“There are some employees who believe that since they work for the largest municipality, they are not comparable to other municipalities.” This notion of believing that Joburg is exceptional or big has deprived some employees and managers the opportunity to learn from other institutions, he adds.
With a twinkle in his eye, he speaks of doubtful colleagues who are forever testing his knowledge.
Before joining the City, Mlokoti was the municipal manager of Amatole District Municipality in Eastern Cape Province. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from the former Transkei University. It is now called Walter Sisulu University.
He also has a certificate in public management and development from the University of Fort Hare, a certificate in executive leadership from the same university, a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pretoria and an honorary doctorate from the Open International University in Sri Lanka.
Born on 8 October 1966 in Soweto, Mlokoti loves spending time with his wife and two children whenever he is not busy. At heart, he is a simple, down-to-earth individual who attributes his success in life to his firm and strict parents, who believed strongly in the importance of education.
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