Local Government Bulletin

Volume 10, Issue 5, November 2008.
Author: MLGI(Community Law Centre)
Published: Oct 24, 2017
Is this Seat Taken? Filling Vacancies During Political Turmoil.
Author: Jaap de Visser

This article outlines the rules dealing with the expulsion and resignation of councillors from their political parties. Central to these rules is the principle that a councillor must vacate office as a councillor when he or she ceases to be a member of the political party.

The End of An Era: The Abolition of Floor Crossing.
Author: Annette Christmas

On 30 June 2008 three important Bills proposing the abolition of the practice of floor-crossing. If passed, the bills will see an end to this much-debated practice and the legislation enables it. They represent the response to a growing chorus of discontent from politicians and members of the public about the impact of floor-crossing.

The Financial Health of Municipalities.
Author: Professor Nico Steytler

In the 2008 Local Government Budgets and Expenditure Review, the National Treasury analyses how municipalities have been funded since 2003/2004 and how they will be funded until 2009/2010. It does the same for the expenditure patterns of municipalities. This article highlights just a few important issues from a comprehensive review.

Defining "Municipal Health Services" The Powers and Functions Debate Continues.
Author: Annette Christmas

Health services are essential to the well-being and sustainability of every community in South Africa. Municipal health services, in keeping with the development mandate of local government, are listed as a Schedule 4B function in the Constitution. It follows that local government has full executive and legislative authority over this function.

Implementing the Property Rates Act: Geeting the Policies, By-laws and Resolutions Right.
Author: Professor Nico Steytler

As from 1 July, all municipalities must implement the Municipal Property Rates Act. This requires all municipalities to have a proper rates policy, which is in turn implemented in a by-law and a rates resolution. Among the municipalities that have implemented the Act thus far there is great confusion about the exact content of the policy and by-law. The danger in this uncertainty is that if the policy and the by-law do not correctly implement the Act, a municipality's ability to enforce payment of rates may be fatally flawed.

Legal Briefs.
Author: MLGI(Community Law Centre)

Can an employment contract be valid if a performance agreement has not been concluded?

From the Courts: Who Excludes Bidders From Future Contracts?
Author: Phoebe Bolton

The duty to create and maintain a sound supply chain management system is an essential component of the good governance of any municipality. While the Municipal Finance Management Act clearly outlines the type of relationship that should exist between the municipality and those bidding to supply services, it is difficult at times to determine how acts of bribery, for example should be dealt with and the appropriate procedures to be followed when these matters.

Volume 10, Issue 3, July/August 2008.
Author: MLGI(Community Law Centre)
Published: Oct 19, 2017
The Demise of Local Democracy?
Author: Johan Mettler

The recent electricity hikes have affected everyone from government to the private sector, and not least of all, the ordinary man on the street. As organs of state, municipalities, Eskom, the National Energy Regulator and the Minister of Finance may not act outside of the law. This article raises concerns about the legality of the electricity increases and the implications it has for local government.

Ward Committes Revisited.
Author: Prof Jaap de Visser

Parliament has nearly completed its work on the local Government Laws Amendment Bill which was tabled towards the end of 2007. Many of its provisions are technical in nature and serve to clarify local government laws. However, some provisions are very important from a policy perspective. The most significant changes are discussed in this article.

Land Use Management Bill: A First Step Toward Ending Spatial Fragmentation.
Author: Leah Cohen

The Department of Land Affairs has tabled the long-awaited Land Use Management Bill, No 27 of 2008 (the Bill). The Bill, scheduled to be passed this year, attempts to give effect to the 2001 White Paper on Spatial Planning and Land Use Management by establishing a coherent regulatory framework for land use management across the country. It is designed to clarify land use management roles among different spheres of government and establish a uniform structure and set of principles for reviewing and deciding development applications.

Guidelines For Multilingualism in Local Government.
Author: Leah Cohen

The Department of Provincial and Local Government recently announced draft Guidelines for Implementing Multilingualism in Local Government. The draft Guidelines attempt to provide for more systematic arrangements in meeting the linguistic needs of those who lack proficiency in English, or who are illiterate or disabled.

Local AIDS Councils: New Developments Toward Better Functioning.
Author: Marije Versteeg

Despite their potential to advise, support and strengthen local government in its response to HIV and AIDS epidemic, many local and district AIDS council are struggling to fulfil this role. This article reflects on a recent event, aimed at looking at the effectiveness of AIDS councils and ways of strengthening their performance. It is also a follow-up to the article on AIDS councils in the August 2007 issue of the Bulletin.

From the Courta: Who Can Suspend the Municipal Manager?
Author: Reuben Baartjies

Section 56 of the Municipal Structures Act provides that the Executive Mayor is obliged to perform duties and exercise such powers as the council may delegate in terms of section 59 of the Municipal Systems Act. Section 55 of the Systems Act deals with the obligations of municipal managers and provides that the municipal manager is accountable only to the municipal council.

The Constitutionalisation of Local Government.
Author: Justice Pius Langa

In the last decade we have seen a shift in the way local government is conceived-socially, politically and in the legal context. The changes status of local government has been evident in the courts and the increased judicial scrutiny of the activities by the institutions of local government.

Legal Brief
Author: MLGI(Community Law Centre)

Who is liable to pay the municipal accounts of defaulting tenants?

Local Governance in Zambia.
Author: Bornwell C. Chikuko

In post-independence Zambia, governments have sought to design and implement decentralised democratic local governance to facilitate wider participation by the citizentry and service delivery. This article provides an overview of the constitutional and legislative framework for local government in Zambia.

Volume 10, Issue 2, April/ May 2008.
Author: MLGA(Community Law Centre)
Published: Oct 19, 2017
Implications For Local Government of a Single Public Service: Great White Hope Or Disaster in the Making?
Author: Professor Jaap de Visser

The Department of Public Service and administration has published for comment a draft Public Administration Management Bill aimed at creating a single public service. The long-waited Bill is being promoted as the magic bullet for addressing capacity shortages and streaming service delivery. The intention is that the Bill will be submitted to Parliament in June and passed this year. We outline key aspects of the Bill and raise a number of concerns.

Holding the Municipal Executive To Account
Author: Yonatan Tesfaye Fessha

The accountability of the executive to the council is a cardinal principle of good governance. Information flow is essential to holding it accountable for its decisions and performance in delivering services and meeting locally prioritised outcomes. A prerequsite for information flow is transparency in the manner in which the executive carries out its tasks, and this begs the question: are there fault lines in the design of the local government system that have given rise to a lack of accountability and responsiveness.

Strengthening Accountability and Political Oversight.
Author: Geraldine Mettler

The Gauteng province took a policy decision in 2007 to promote municipal public accounts committees (MPACs) in municipalities in the province. Although these committees are structurally different from the standing committees on public accounts, (SCOPAs) they are to resemble SCOPA's. The main purpose of MPACs is to create a process of accounting that is more transparent, effective and efficient , thus enhancing political oversight and accountability in the use of municipal financial resources. MPACs are section 79 committees and fall within the domain of the speaker, who acts as the link between the MPAC and other municipal committees and structures.

Rules and Orders: The Building Blocks of Good Governance
Author: Prof Jaap de Visser

How does a municipality make its decision-making procedures clear and legally sound? How does it ensure that every councillor participate meaningfully in council meetings? How does it keep council and committee meetings orderly and prevent councillors from abusing their freedom of Expression? This article explores these questions in detail and postulates solutions on how to ensure that the Rules and Orders of council are respected and achieve their intended purpose.

Redefining the Political Structure of District Municipalities.
Author: Reuben Baatjies

The DPLG's policy review process was kicked off with "65 questions for public engagements". Among the listed 65 questions, it asked: "What role should district municipalities play and how they should be structured?" A key problem has been the governance structure of districts: the uncomfortable combination of district-wide and local council representatives has not resulted in an integrated system of district government.

From the Courts: The Right To Water: A Matter of Dignity.
Author: Reuben Baartjies

According to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, "Water is life, sanitation is dignity" Water, as a human right, is essential to sustain life, development and the environment. In Mazibuko and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others the fundamental right to have access to sufficient water and the right to human dignity were tested.

Local Government in Zimbabwe at the Crossroads: A Perspective
Author: Gorden Moyo

At independence in 1980, Zimbabwe inherited a racially divided system of local government that was highly centralised. The current legal and administrative structures of local government are a product of both the colonial history and post-colonial reconstruction of the relations between central government and local authorities.

Volume 10, Issue 1, February/March 2008
Author: MLGA(Community Law Centre)
Published: Oct 19, 2017
New Electricity Regulations: Shocking Municipalities Into Action?
Author: Professor Jaap de Visser

Municipalities will play a key role in the government's response to the electricity crisis. In the wake of the recent peak in the ongoing electricity shortages, the Department of Minerals and Energy published draft regulations that aim to minimise electricity load-shedding and blackouts and improve the quality of electricity supply. To this end, a series of measures is proposed. The regulations are directed at licensees which include municipalities that sell electricity with a license from Eskom.

The Strangulation of Local Government: Stifling Innovation, Experimentation and Local Responsiveness
Author: Professor Nico Steytler

In the past decade, local government has experienced a mass of legislation regulating its functioning. The question is whether the sheer volume, style, nature and scope of this legislative framework is facilitating or obstructing the achievement of local government's mandate of development. This article argues that the overload of laws may be strangulating local government's execution of its mandate. The revision of the White Paper on Local Government should therefore also look at the extent and manner of regulation.

The New Municipal Property Rates Regulations: Mere regulation or Irrational Ratios?
Author: Professor Nico Steytler

On 19 December 2007 the Minister of Provincial and Local Government published for public comment draft regulations on property rates. The draft regulations set ratios for municipal property rates on different types of property. A key ratio that stirred much controversy was that the rate on state-owned property should be no more than of the rate on residential property. This has been slammed as unconstitutional and a threat to municipalities financial sustainability. Moreover, the draft regulations determine that rates on categories of property may not be increased by more than the Consumer Price Index.

Reflections on Local Government: Creating a More Viable and Relevant Vision for Local Government.
Author: David Schmidt

This is article was prepared by Davids Schmidt for the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) to stimulate debate and discussion in the GGLN as part of their process of preparing submissions for the DPLG's review of local government. However, the views expressed are his personal views and do not necessarily reflect those of the GGLN or its members. This article focuses on three key areas of reform. (1) The need to rethink the current legislative and regulatory requirements regarding participation. (2) The need to simplify and 'unbureaucratise" the specified municipal planning processes. (3) The need for an updated, more dynamic vision for local government that recognises the need for a much more differentiated approach to different kinds of localities.

Subsidiarity in the Constitution.
Author: Professor Jaap de Visser

What is subsidiarity? Subsidiarity is a general principle that says governance should take place as close as possible to the citizens. It translates into the protection of lower levels of government against undue interference by national government. It also translates into a preference for placing functions and powers at lower levels of government where possible.

Designing and implementing HIV and AIDS Initiatives: Local Government's Role.
Author: Celine Mazars

"In line with the mandate assigned to municipalities as part of the vision of developmental local government, municipalities are expected to be active role players in all efforts to prevent the spread the of HIV and to mitigate the negative consequences of AIDS for communities". The various frameworks and plans guiding the HIV and AIDS response of local government insist on the municipalities role in mainstreaming HIV, and also in coordinating the local responses.

The Challenges of Funding Municipal Infrastructure.
Author: Jaya Josie

The Key Financial policy objectives for sustainable local government are derived from constitutional obligations. These obligations require municipal organisation, planning and budgeting systems to target the provision of basic services and socio-economic development. Municipal Budgets are the main fiscal policy instruments that direct the revenue and expenditure stance of local government in achieving the service delivery targets.

The Duty To Have Meaningful Engagement Before An Eviction.
Author: Siyambonga Heleba

On 19 February 2008 the Constitutional Court (CC) considered an appeal by more than 400 occupiers of two buildings in the inner city of Johannesburg against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal. The decisions of the High Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court are discussed in this article.

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