Governance (council, executive, committees, ward committees, public participation)

Deepening democracy through municipal councillor oversight Deepening democracy through municipal councillor oversight

As a result of the wide-spread and intense criticism directed at local government for failing to deliver on its constitutional mandate, a necessity arise for in-depth study to evaluate the role of municipal councillors in their duty to provide oversight in ensuring policy implementation and accountability. In light of this, the LGSETA commissioned Enterprises UP to conduct research regarding the extent to which municipal councillors succeed in their oversight role.

Municipal managers must leave politics to councillors Municipal managers must leave politics to councillors

After the 2021 local government elections, politicians have been fighting to control city councils where there is no outright majority. Mayors and speakers have been elected, and removed, on a regular basis. In this turmoil, municipal managers risk become entangled in politics

Coalitions in local government: ideas for law reform Coalitions in local government: ideas for law reform

Coalition politics in local government, particularly in some of the country’s metropolitan municipalities continues to dominate the news for all the wrong reasons. This article offers reflections on coalition politics, and ideas for law reform to further the debate on what role, if any, the law can play in ensuring that governance in so-called “hung councils” improves.

Rogue leadership and lawlessness in Kannaland Municipality Rogue 	leadership and lawlessness in Kannaland Municipality

More than half of Kannaland Local Municipality’s population lives in poverty. Improved access to water and sanitation, well-maintained roads, adequate parks and recreation facilities, etc. can go a long way to ensure a dignified living in all its communities. However, Kannaland has struggled to deliver services since December 2018, when it was placed under provincial administration, a situation that still persists. Political instability, maladministration and poor oversight are among the root causes of poor service delivery. As political parties continue their political scheming to gain access to political office, service delivery in the Municipality continues to decline.

Safeguarding the integrity of councillors and senior managers in local government Safeguarding the integrity of councillors and senior managers in local government

On 12 April 2022, the Dullah Omar Insitute (DOI) convened a webinar on 'Safeguarding the integrity of councillors and senior managers in local government'. The webinar, which was supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, had a panel consisting of Prof Jaap de Visser (Director: DOI), Dr Phindile Ntliziywana (State Law Advisor: Eastern Cape Provincial Government) and Ms Phatima Rawat (Associate: Ethics Institute).

The Local Government Ethical Leadership Initiative The Local Government Ethical Leadership Initiative

The Local Government Ethical Leadership Initiative (LGELI) was launched in December 2020 as a partnership project between the Ethics Institute, the national Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG), the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM).

Local Government in South Africa: Responses to urban-rural challenges Local Government in South Africa: Responses to urban-rural challenges

The Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) is one of 18 international partners of the LoGov project titled ‘Local Government and the Changing Urban-Rural Interplay’. The project seeks to establish an international and intersectoral training and research network to identify, and evaluate best-fit practices for local governments in order to address the changing urban-rural interplay and manage its impacts. It is funded by the European Commission as part of the EU-Rise Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA).

The declaration and publication of the financial interests of councillors and senior managers: what the law says The declaration and publication of the financial interests of councillors and senior managers: what the law says

In 2021, Julius Malema MP was a director of Mgagao Shamba Pty (Ltd), a farming company. Furthermore, he received two gifts, namely whiskey from Kgantontle Consulting and a pen, diary and USB from the Cape Town Press Club. How do we know this? We know this because it is recorded in the Register of Members Interests which can be downloaded from the website of Parliament. Members of Parliament regularly declare their interests with Parliament’s Registrar of Interests, and aspects of this are published. How does this work in local government? What are the responsibilities of municipalities in this regard? For councillors, it is regulated in the Code of Conduct for Councillors, which appears in Schedule 7 of the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998. For senior managers, it is regulated in the Code of Conduct for Staff Members, which appears in Schedule 2 of the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000.

The viability of e-techniques towards service delivery in municipalities The viability of e-techniques towards service delivery in municipalities

The demands posed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and Covid-19 pandemic necessitated the introduction of e-services by municipalities globally. Just like globalisation, the 4IR needs to be accepted and coupled with a pragmatic shift in policies and structures of administration. In fact, research points to the potential benefits the 4IR has to offer, which include the strengthening of service delivery. The purpose of this article is to share some insights into the impact and use of e-service delivery in local government.

Virtual budget adoption by eThekwini Municipal Council challenged in Court Virtual budget adoption by eThekwini Municipal Council challenged in Court

The rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus is wreaking havoc on human lives and government processes. Like any other government institutions, municipal councils under the lockdown regulations first introduced on 25 March 2020 were initially prohibited from hosting council meetings in person to reduce the spread of the virus. They were instead directed to identify creative ways of undertaking their legislative obligations, such as hosting council sessions virtually in order to adopt municipal budgets.

Why coalition agreements should be public Why coalition agreements should be public

In the previous articles of the coalition series in the Local Government Bulletin, it was argued that the proportional representation (PR) electoral system of local government and the absence of electoral thresholds creates the possibility for hung councils to recur in municipalities, making the formation of coalition governments necessary.

The ‘download’ on personal information: The Protection of Personal Information Act and Municipalities The ‘download’ on personal information: The Protection of Personal Information Act and Municipalities

In an age of information warfare, identity theft and the mismanagement and commercialisation of personal information in the digital world, the right to privacy in the Constitution and the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 (POPIA) are vital tools that must be used to mitigate the risks that ordinary citizens face when sharing personal information. This article reflects on the question of whether municipalities, which are often the primary interface between citizens and government, are ready to implement and fulfil the requirements of POPIA and more specifically, it examines the obligations which municipalities now bear to lawfully process personal information.

Court stops reckless electricity outsourcing contract Court stops reckless electricity outsourcing contract

Can a municipality under a section 139(5) intervention avoid or by-pass an Administrator, or adopt decisions, such as entering into contracts, that undermine a Financial Recovery Plan? According to the Western Cape High Court, in Executive Council of the Western Cape Province and Others v Kannaland Local Municipality and Others the answer is no. The Court stopped Kannaland Municipal Council from implementing a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) contract involving the outsourcing of electricity after the Municipality had acted unlawfully and at the detriment of its financial sustainability.

Why appeals against tender awards by the municipal manager are unlawful Why appeals against tender awards by the municipal manager are unlawful

Separating politics from administration is the cornerstone of the fight against corruption and maladministration in municipalities. When councillors meddle in the administration, and/or administrators interfere with politics, bad governance and, ultimately, service delivery failure is almost always the result.

Stepping aside, But then What? How the ANC's Resolution affects councillors Stepping aside, But then What? How the ANC's Resolution affects councillors

The African National Congress (ANC) is implementing a resolution, which provides that members who face criminal charges for corruption, must ‘step aside’. It means, amongst other things, that these members may no longer represent the ANC on any public body. How does this affect ANC members who represent the party as councillors? And what does it mean for the municipality in which they serve?

Coalition governments: Guidelines for coalition agreements Coalition governments: Guidelines for coalition agreements

At the time of writing the first article on coalitions (published in the Bulletin in September 2020), the local government (LG) elections were a year away. In only five or six months, 533 political parties and around 855 independent candidates will contest the LG elections across all municipalities in South Africa. The number of registered political parties and independent candidates have increased since the 2016 LG elections. The increasing number of political parties and independent candidates along with the absence of thresholds increases the likelihood that hung councils may recur in some municipalities. Threshold requirements aim to limit the number of parties that obtain seats in the council by reserving seats for parties who reach a minimum share of the votes in the local elections.

Amending Municipal Governance Laws: New Rules, New Directions? A focus on the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill Amending Municipal Governance Laws: New Rules, New Directions? A focus on the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill

On 29 October 2019, Parliament revived deliberations on the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill (Bill). The Bill had been undergoing stakeholder engagement before it lapsed under the previous Parliament. Its revival therefore meant that deliberations on the Bill would start again. After it was revived, the Bill was allocated to the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) (Portfolio Committee) which was tasked with facilitating stakeholder engagement. As of 30 October 2020, deliberations on the Bill in the Committee had almost been concluded in readiness for its submission to the National Assembly for Second Reading.

An analysis of the competency levels for ward committee members An analysis of the competency levels for ward committee members

Ward committees are governance structures consisting of elected representatives from communities, serving as links between ward councillors, municipalities and residents and relaying concerns of the communities to the elected councillors. The councillors then relay the concerns to the relevant municipal departments and facilitate the implementation of a solution. Ward committee members and ward councillors are expected to act in the best interest of the communities they represent.

Amending Municipal Governance Laws: New Rules, New Directions? A focus on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill Amending Municipal Governance Laws: New Rules, New Directions? A focus on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill

After the 2019 national and provincial government elections, Parliament revived deliberations on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to strengthen oversight and governance in local government. Many of the proposed amendments touch on issues that have been prevalent in local government for the longest of time. This report provides a summary of the proceedings of a webinar on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill (as well as the Municipal Systems Amendment Bill that is covered in a different report).

Factors affecting local governance Factors affecting local governance

How can we improve the quality of governance in municipalities? What do we need to do in local government to promote stability, allow development to take place and create sustainable communities? A recent research report by the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) examined these issues.

Women as candidates in Local Government Elections: What can we learn from the past? Women as candidates in Local Government Elections: What can we learn from the past?

Evidence has shown that women are more actively involved in elections as voters, than as candidates in local government elections. In the 2016 elections, for example, and according to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), 58 percent of voters were women. However, the picture looks very different when it comes to women participating as candidates. Although having women elected into local government is not in itself a guarantee that the elected women will advance women’s issues, not having gender-balanced local governments, creates a democratic deficit. This article starts from the premise that as we look forward to the 2021 elections we ought to take lessons from earlier elections in order to make our election processes more gender transformative.

2021 Local Elections, Governance and Stability

During the run-up to the local government (LG) elections, it is not uncommon for turbulence to arise in municipalities because of the potential shifts that can occur in the composition of municipal councils. Uncertainties emanating from the elections that are yet to transpire also feeds back into the municipal administrations, making it fragile during election times. This report provides a summary of the proceedings of a webinar on LG elections and their impact on the municipal administration.

Gauteng High Court deals decisively with councillor-walk-outs

Perhaps the most important aspect of the job of a councillor is to attend council and committee meetings. Item 3 of the Code of Conduct for Councillors provides that every councillor must attend these meetings and the municipality’s rules of order contain more detailed rules on this. Failing to attend, or to remain in attendance, without having obtained leave of absence, is a violation of the Code of Conduct (item 4(1)). If a councillor fails to attend three or more meetings in a row, the councillor must be removed from office (item 4(2)).

Can councillors be legally prohibited from engaging residents and/or advisors before an item is tabled in a Committee or Council?

Matters affecting municipalities have become more and more important to residents. Given the constitutional objective to encourage the involvement of communities and community organizations in matters of local government, how elected councillors are allowed by their respective councils to engage with residents, determines whether residents truly believe that their councillors are genuinely interested in their views.

Measuring transparency, public participation and oversight in the budget processes of South Africa’s metropolitan municipalities

The Metro Open Budget Survey (Metro OBS) is modelled on the global Open Budget Survey (OBS) initiated by the International Budget Partnership in 2006. The OBS is an independent, comparative assessment of budget accountability: transparency, oversight, and public participation. The global OBS has been conducted six times and evaluates national government budget processes in 115 countries across six continents. The Metro OBS goes a level deeper by applying the OBS methodology to local government, and assesses five of the eight metropolitan municipalities (metros) in South Africa: City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg, City of Ekurhuleni, eThekwini Municipality, and Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. In 2018, IBP South Africa in partnership with the Dullah Omar Institute piloted the Metro OBS across the same five metros. The questionnaire used in this pilot was developed by adapting the 2017 international Open Budget Survey for the South African local government context. After using the 2018 pilot to test and refine the methodology, we rolled out the project in full from the beginning of 2019.

Impact of the declaration of invalidity of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act of 2011

Background: On 9 March 2017, the Constitutional Court (the Court) confirmed a decision of the High Court, which had declared the Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Act, 2011 (Amendment Act) unconstitutional and entirely invalid. The Amendment Act had mainly sought to make changes to the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act of 2000 (Principal Act) while making a minor related amendment to the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act of 1998. The process of its enactment had wrongly followed the procedure laid out under section 75 of the Constitution instead of the appropriate procedure under section 76. The Court confirmed this invalidity in the case of South African Municipal Workers’ Union v Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs and Others [2017] ZACC 7.

Amendment of the Local Government Municipal Structures Act: Is local government finally structured for success?

On 21 February 2019 the then Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, delivered his address on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill in Parliament. In his address he stressed that the Amendment Bill is aligned to the tasks that President Cyril Ramaphosa mentioned when giving the State of the Nation Address in February 2019. Among these tasks is the need to accelerate inclusive growth, job creation, improving the education system, improving the conditions of life for all South Africans, fighting state capture and corruption, skills development and strengthening the State’s capacity to respond to the needs of the people. Dr Mkhize further stressed that the Amendment Bill will strengthen municipal governance and address the management of local government elections. It remains to be seen whether this will be yet another case of over-promising and under-delivering by our government or a win for effective governance in municipalities.

The power to preside over disciplinary appeals

The Constitution provides that “everyone has a right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair”. This entitlement extends to municipal employees and must therefore be reflected in municipal labour and administrative practices.

Politics of change: Keeping the genie in the bottle

Over the past weeks, the impact of the leadership change in the African National Congress on government has become patently visible. The most important change was obviously manifested in the resignation of the President, three provincial premiers and a number of national Cabinet members, including the Minister for Provincial and Local Government.

Councillors' individual liability

On 11 June 2008, the Cape High Court handed down a judgment that set an important precedent about councillors’ individual liability for taking or supporting illegal decisions.

Are ward committees working? Insights from six case studies

Ward committees were introduced after the December 2000 municipal elections to supplement the role of elected councillors. As such, they were intended to create a bridge between communities and the political and administrative structures of municipalities. Many observers argue, however, that ward committees are not functioning as intended and that instead of enhancing the environment of participatory governance, these structures have actually undermined it by displacing many other channels for public participation.

The Functioning of Ward Committees. Challenges and Prospects.

Ward committees were formally introduced in 2000, and many municipalities soon commenced the process of establishing them. The establishment rate of ward committees across the country now stands at over 90% and is growing, indicating a firm commitment to this mode of community participation. This article submits a few observations on some of the obstacles to the functionality of ward committees.

Facilitating Public Participation: A Niche Role For the Speaker

Considerable attention has been drawn to local governement's ability to facilitate public participation and the role and effective administration of ward committees. Undoubtedly, the most important aspect of the local government review is the need to improve the quality of local democracy, the degree of municipal responsiveness and accountability.

Local AIDS Councils and the Civic Role of Local Government.

There is widespread consensus that the severity of the HIV and AIDS epidemic cannot be curbed by the government on its own. In light of this realisation, the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) the highest-level multisectoral partnership body in South Africa, was established in 2000. Chaired by the Deputy President, its objectives include providing leadership, building consensus around HIV and AIDS policy and strategy matters, promoting intersectoral collaboration and overseeing the overall implementation and review of the National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS.

Legal Briefs.

Does the municipal council have a say in the appointments of administrative staff by the municipal manager?

Has Floor-Crossing Seen its End?

The floor-crossing window period has come to and gone, affecting the composition of 128 municipalities. Although 280 politicians tried to cross, only 250 succeeded. This is a significant reduction in the number of councillors who crossed the floor compared with the first floor-crossing period in 2002 (555) and the second in 2004 (486).

Crisis or Communication Breakdown? Are Our Councillors Listening?

Not that long ago, a democracy promotion organisation arranged a course ti help local councillors improve their capacity to represent voters. The skills it taught were how to hear what local voters were saying and how to speak on their behalf. After a while, the councillors complained that the course did not meet their needs. They wanted, they said to be taught "how to deliver services".

Name Changing of Towns: Public Participation At the Forefront Once More.

The Supreme Court of Appeal recently examined the processes surrounding the changing of town names and the extent to which they must facilitate public consultation in the case of Chairpersons Association v The Minister of Arts and Culture , the Chairman of the South African Geographical Names Council and the Municipality of Makhado. This is to be distinguished from the changing of names of municipalities in terms of section 16 of the Municipal Systems Act.

Immunity for Councillors: Testimony Outside Council.

Councillor's immunity from civil liability for anything they say in council is an important cornerstone of constitutional democracy and protects councillors from defamation actions. But the ambit of the immunity is not without limit.

Community Participation: The Cornerstone of Local Participatory Democracy.

Community participation is key to the functioning of local government. One of the constitutional objects of local government is to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in local government. The Landmark Doctors for Life and Matatiele judgments, passed by the Constitutional Court in August 2006, are critical for the interpretation of the law of community participation in local government.

A secret ballot?

The Municipal Structures Act provides that the election of office-bearers must take place in a secret ballot. However, it does not stipulate what the consequences would be if every councillor did not, in fact, cast his or her vote in secret.

Executive Commitees: Proportional or Fair Representation?

The recent debate over plans to change the type of government in the City of Cape Town raised some interesting questions about the composition of executive committees. It is often assumed that am executive committee must be based on proportional representation, with seats automatically assigned according to the representation of each party in the municipal council. While this is possible and in most cases desirable, the courts have held that it is an option open to the municipal council but not an imperative.

Stepping Stones and Stumbling Blocks: Changing Municipal Boundaries.

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) is entrusted with the often difficult task of demarcating municipal boundaries. Disputes around cross-boundary municipalities and the changing of municipal boundaries have recently been the focus of violent protests by communities affected by these decisions. The MDB recently published a proposal about the incorporation of the Paarl, Wellington, Stellenbosch and Drakenstein municipalities into the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality. The notice attracted much attention in the media and raised important questions around how the MDB engages with proposals received from the public.

Tying Municipal Manager's Pay to Performance.

Municipal managers are well paid-too well, it has sometimes been argued. Many wonder why the head public servants of local government should earn more than mayors, or in some cases even the President. The remuneration of managers became a hot issue in the run-up to the recent local government elections. the Department of Provincial and Government recently gazetted new regulations on the performance and remuneration of municipal managers.

Legal Briefs: Proportional Leadership?

Let's say that in a collective executive system, Party A has 37 councillors, Party B has 13 and Party C has one. The Executive Committee has 10 Members and five standing committees. Is Party B entitled to chair a standing committee on the basis of proportionality.

From the Courts: Extending Municipal Managers Contracts

The Change of government in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Council has also seen a change in the office of the municipal manager. Although the decision of the Cape High Court in Mgoqi v City of Cape Town dealt with a number of issues, at the core of the dispute was whether the the outgoing mayor could have extended the contract of the then municipal manager, Wallace Mgoqi.

Salaries Scale Upwards For Mayors, Managers and Councillors.

National government recently gazetted new and bigger remuneration packages for municipal councillors. The proposal sees a big jump in salaries for all office-bearers, especially part-time councillors. However, some dangers lurk in the changes for rural councils and voters in poorer communities.

Legal Briefs: When Does A Councillor Take Office?

Does a candidate become a councillor on the day of the election or on the day that he or she is sworn in? This matter is important in relation to matters such as remuneration. It also arise during the council's term when a vacancy in the council is filled.

Making Headlines: Dismissal of Councillors ini Gauteng

More than 100 municipal councillors and officials have been dismissed or forced to resign over the past five years in Gauteng's municipalities following investigations into fraud, corruption and absenteeism. The most common offences discovered by the office of the Auditor General and its investigative units were maladministration, fraud and corruption.

Councillors Can Have Their Say: Immunity in Council.

For a democracy to be vibrant, councillors must have the freedom to speak their minds in council. This freedom is protected by the Constitution and the Municipal Structures Act, which grants councillors immunity against civil and criminal liability for anything they say in council.

Challenges for the New Councils

The election on 5 December 2000 was the formal beginning of the new local government dispensation, Local government was established as the primary site for service delivery and development in the country. This article outlines some of the challenges facing the new councils.

Agenda For The First Council Meeting.

The first meeting of the newly elected councils must take place at the seat of the municipality within 14 days of the council being declared elected. If it is a district council, the meeting must be held within 14 days of the appointment of all members who are to be appointed by local councils. At the first meeting, a number of issues must be decided and key office bearers must be elected.

Powers of the Speaker?

The Speaker of the Lejweleputswa District Municipality convened a council meeting on 15 July 2003 in which he purported to appoint a commission of enquiry to investigate alleged irregularities at that district municipality. The issue before the Free State High Court was whether the speaker of a district had the power to appoint a commission of enquiry.

Expanded Public Works Programme: Role of the Municipalities.

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) will spend R15 to 20 billion on labour-intensive projects by 2009. The short-term goal is to create a million temporary jobs to alleviate poverty, especially in rural areas. This article discusses the four sectors of the EPWP.

Electing Woman Councillors: 50/50 Representation?

With the upcoming local government election drawing closer, gender representation has become an issue once again. The use of a quota policy to address the problem of under representation of woman has been the subject of heated debate. This debate has brought to the fore the role of parties policies on gender representation within the context of the current electoral system.

Community Development Workers.

In his 2003 State of the Nation Address, President Thabo Mbeki announced that "government will create a public service echelon of mutli-skilled community development workers". The community development worker programme is an effort to deepen democracy at the local level and is intended to give citizens direct access to government in a people-centred way.

Communities Providing Services.

The Constitution mandates local government to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner and to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.

The Service Delivery and Budget Implementation Plan.

Each municipality classified as high capacity in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 is required to compile a service delivery and budget implementation plan. The SDBIP is a management, implementation and monitoring tool that will assist the mayor, municipal manager, councillors, senior managers and the community with realising the municipality's strategic objectives as outlined in the Integrated Development Plan.

District Management Areas: Municipal Demarcation Board Changes Policy.

The Municipal Structures Act of 1998 mandates the Municipal Demarcation Board to declare part of an area that must have both district and local municipalities as a district management area, if the establishment of a category B municipality in that part of the area will not be conducive to fulfilling the objectives of section 24 of the Demarcation Act.

President's Co-ordinating Council Meets.

The President's Co-ordinating Council is a consultative forum for the President to raise matters of national interest with Premiers and organised local government on the implementation of national policy and legislation in provinces and municipalities. This article discusses the role of the forum with a specific focus on Project Consolidate.

KwaZulu-Natal's New Premier Co-ordinating Forum

On 19 April 2005, a new intergovernmental forum was launched for the provincial government and municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. The Forum reflects the structure and spirit of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Bill of 2005 currently before Parliament. This article discusses the objects, composition, functions, and functioning of the forum.

Johannesburg's Special Cases Policy: A New Start For the Indigent.

On 4 May 2005 the City of Johannesburg started registering beneficiaries under the Special Cases Policy of 2004. The main purpose of the policy is to write off municipal services debts owed by indigent people and to provide subsidisation of basic services for identified classes of people.

The REDs Are Coming.

Regional Electricity Regulations (REDs) have been under discussion since the early 1990s and numerous debates have been held for and against them. At last the process seems to have been pushed beyond a point of no return with the announcement by the President Mbeki that the first RED will be operational by June 2005 and the last of the of the six by january 2007.

Municipal Debts Are Rising.

In a recent report to Parliament, the Auditor-General, Shauket Fakie questioned the ability of South African municipalities to continue operating as a going concern. He commented that municipalities mounting levels of uncollected debt relative to their income was a cause for concern. The total municipal debt countrywide is more than R32 Billion and it is getting worse each year because of non-payment.

From the Courts: Councillors and Contracts With Their Municipality.

In the case of Mpakathi v Kgotso Development and Others SCA, Case No. 334/03, the Court had to consider whether a property attached by a municipality may be sold in execution to a close corporation if one of the members of that close corporation is a municipal councillor.

Collecting Service Debts: Constitutional Court Speaks.

A recent judgment by the Constitutional Court confirms that the electricity and water charges owed to a municipality must be paid before a property can be transferred to an new owner. This is a major victory for municipalities in their effort to collecting outstanding service charges.

Supply Chain Management and Public-Private Partnership Provisions.

Chapter 11 of the Municipal Finance Management Act came into force on 1 July 2004. This chapter contains provisions that strictly regulate the acquiring of goods and services and the disposal of municipal assets. A sound knowledge and understanding of its provisions is therefore an essential requirement for all municipalities and municipal entities.

From the Courts: Notifying the IEC of a Floor-Crossing.

The Constitution of South Africa Amendment Act 18 of 2002 and the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Act 20 of 2002 contain provisions designed to allow defection by an elected representative from one political party to another.

Equal Gender Representation? Audit of Local Government

Salga conducted an audit to determine the extent to which woman are represented and participate in local government. It focused on two areas: the elected representatives and the employed officials in municipalities. The purpose of the audit was to determine if women's representation has increased since 2000.

Ward Delimitations for the 2005/2006 Local Elections

South Africa is gearing up for the next local elections, which are to be held between December 2005 and March 2006. It is expected that the election date will be announced by the Minister of Provincial and Local Government in the second half of 2005.

Setting Service Delivery Targets.

During the past two months, the newly elected government has emphasised the important role that local government must play in meeting the challenges of economic development and poverty alleviation.

Phasing in the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The Municipal Finance Management Act which was adopted by Parliament on 26 November 2003, took effect on 1 July 2004. It seeks to modernise and improve financial governance in all municipalities. Together with the Municipal Systems Act, it clarifies the roles and responsibilities of executives and non-executives councillors and officials, modernise budgeting and financial management practices and improves governance over municipal entities.

Dissolution of the Lekwa Teemane Council.

On 21 January 2004 the Provincial Executive of the North West approved a resolution to dissolve the Lekwa Teemane Local Council in terms of section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution.

Woman's Role in India's Village Councils

India was one of the first countries to introduce a mandatory quota system to enhance woman's representation in government. What is unique about the Indian system is that the quota is also applicable to top positions in government, and a third of all mayors in India today are woman. South Africa can learn from India's experience in order to create a more equitable environment for woman.

Responsibilites of Municipal Managers: The Municipal Finance Management Act

The Municipal Finance Management Act is a very prescriptive piece of legislation and should not be read piecemeal, but worked through as a whole. Many chapters and sections are inter-related. For example, the duties of the municipal manager and the accounting officer of the municipality are not found in only one chapter but are scattered throughout the Act.

Gender and the Budget.

While budgets have been instrumental in transmitting and reproducing gender biases, they also offer the possibility for transforming existing gender inequalities. It is important to note that a gender budget is not a separate budget for gender activities and issues, rather, it is the normal budget from a gender perspective or analysed through a gender lens.

Who Appoints the Municipal Manager?

In terms of section 82 of the Municipal Structures Act, not only a municipal council can appoint a municipal manager. Furthermore, section 30 (5) of the Structures Act states that, before a municipal council can decide on the appointment of a municipal manager or of the head of a municipal department, the executive mayor or the executive committee must submit a report and recommendation concerning the appointment and conditions of employment.

Guidelines For Ward Committees: Strengthening Participatory Governance

Following a national conference on ward committees in June 2003, the Department of Provincial and Local Government published its long awaited Draft Guidelinies for the Establishment and Operation of Municipal Ward Committees for comment. The Guidelines aim to streamline the process of establishing ward committees and their internal operations and are a product of comments and suggestions received at the conference.

How gender sensitive is your municipality?

Local government is now expected to play a proactive role in the social, economic, and material development of local communities. This means it is an sphere of government for women and for gender equity, as it has the potential to transform woman's lives by providing services such as water, sanitation, clinics, child care facilities, roads and transport.

Participatory Governance Through Ward Committees.

The Department of Provincial and Local Government held a conference on ward committees on 24-25 June. These are the vehicles through which participatory governance takes place and their effective performance is crucial to the success of proper community participation in local government.

Local Government is in Good Health.

The core principles, values and features of the new local government system are sound. This is the conclusion of the national Portfolio Committee on Local Government after a major study tour of the municipalities at the beginning of 2003.

Councillors Can Have Their Say: Privilege in Council

Section 161 of the Constitution and section 28 of the Municipal Structures Act protect the freedom of speech of councillors (subject to the council's rules and orders) and grant councillors immunity against civil and criminal liability for anything they say in council.

From SALGA: Taking the Bull by its Horns

Key local government leaders from across the country gathered at SALGA's National General Council in November 2002 to consider critical issues currently facing the sector. The resolution that emerged will set the pace of local government transformation for many years and a brief synopsis of some of them follows.

From SALGA: Report on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill

The Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government passed this Bill on 22 October 2002 and the National Assembly passed two days later. The Bill at the time of writing is scheduled to be passed by the National Council of Provinces on 7 November. It should be signed into law by the middle of November.

Crossing the Floor: The Judgment

On 4 October the Constitutional Court ended a period of political instability that started just less than a year ago with the break up of the Democratic Alliance (DA). The eagerly awaited judgment of the Court declared as unconstitutional the Acts that relate to crossing the floor at local government level, namely the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Act 20 of 2002 and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Act 18 of 2002.

Terms of Reference for Political Structures and Political Office Bearers

Every municipal council has the right to to determine its internal procedures. This right is protected by section 160 of the Constitution, which allows a municipality to decide how to structure its internal operations and what kind of mandate/area of responsibility it assigns to political structures, office-bearers and municipal manager.

Crossing the Floor: The Ruls of the Game

The President has signed a set of Bills into law that allow for crossing the floor, This article summarises the Bills insofar as they deal with councillors. The Bills amend parts of the of the Constitution and the Municipal Structures Act

Legal Briefs

What happens if a Political Party Dissolves? What happens if a Councillor leaves the Party? When does a vacancy occur?

From SALGA: Roles and Responsibilities of Mayors

Section 53 of the Municipal Systems Act determines that every municipality must define the specific role and area of responsibility of each political structure and political office-bearer of the municipality. SALGA resolved to prepare a guide to assist municipalities in complying with this requirement.

Legal Briefs: Municipal Staff Member on a Ward Committee?

With the enactment and implementation of the Municipal Demarcation Act, Municipal Structures Act and Municipal Systems Act, the new dispensation for local government has firmly taken root. Are old order ordinances still applicable?

From SALGA: Roles of Political Office-Bearers

The national workshop on the roles and responsibilities of political office-bearers in Mogale City on 29 and 30 August was the culmination of a series of provincial workshops on the roles and responsibilities of mayors and speakers.

Implementing the Municipal Systems Amendment Act.

The Municipal Systems Amendment Act was signed into law by the President on 5 July 2011 and is set to have a major impact on municipal governance. Regulations to give further substance to the Act are on their way.

Political Interference In the Spotlight Once Again

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union made allegations of serious financial irregularities and mismanagement of fiduciary duties against the municipal manager of the Greater Taung Local Municipality, Mr Mpho Mofokeng.

Service Delivery Protests: Less Frequent, More Violent.

Community protests have become almost commonplace in South Africa. In 2009 protest activity reached a peak of 17.75 protests every month, on average. This prompted the Community Law Centre to survey data on the frequency of protests and on some of the underlying causes. A report, Community Protests in South Africa: Trends, Analysis and Explanations, was produced in August 2010 (see LGB 12(4), pp 14–16). Jelani Karamoko, an intern from Harvard Law School, recently updated the report to reflect current data on media-reported community protests. While the update produced some new findings, it also confirmed many of the trends that had already been identified.

Removing Elected Councillors Will Create Chaos.

Widespread disgruntlement over allegations thatcandidates nominated by communities had been irregularly removed by the ANC led to a promise by President Jacob Zuma that any candidates found to have been nominated in an improper way would be removed after the May polls. This was seen as a desperate attempt to stop aggrieved communities from boycotting the local government elections.

First 100 Days In Office.

By now, all municipal councils will have held their first council meeting and constituted most of their political structures. This article provides some basic governance information and highlights key issues that will be on the municipal council’s agenda for its first 100 days in office.

Community Participation and Ward Committees

While ward committees are known to communities, they continue to attract fierce criticism. Many communities are disillusioned and feel that participation in ward committees does very little to express their voice. In many instances, they rather choose public protests or the withholding of rates and taxes as mechanisms to get their needs on the municipal agenda. The Constitutional Court has on several occasions evaluated municipalities’ efforts to facilitate community participation in respect of key decisions. This indicates that the courts are taking community participation seriously.

Leadership Matters: Professionalising Political Leadership.

Moves are afoot to professionalise the administrative arm of local government. First, the National Treasury has prescribed a competency framework for municipal officials at senior and middle management levels. All senior and middle managers must have acquired the prescribed competencies by 1 January 2013, after which no candidate without the requisite competencies can be appointed. These regulations also make it necessary for current employees to attain these competencies by 31 December 2012.

Quality of Political Leadership is Crucial for Effective Service Delivery.

The Centre for Policy Studies recently completed a study on the role of elected local councillors, particularly ward councillors, in service delivery in South Africa. Currently the public do not see local councillors playing an active role in service delivery. Much of the commentary on service delivery protests appears to focus on the role of municipal technocrats and administrators, as well as contracted service providers.

The Budget Vote for Local Government.

On 22 April 2010, the Minister for CooperativeGovernance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, presented Parliament with his department’s budget vote for the 2010/11 financial year. The significance of this particular budget vote is that it is the first for CoGTA since the launch of the Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS) in December 2009.

Woman and Local Government: Steps Towards Greater Inclusivity.

While some progress has been made towards facilitating women’s involvement in government structures and programme implementation, there is still a long way to go before the goal of gender equality is achieved. Research conducted by Alison Todes, Pearl Sithole and Amanda Williamson investigated the extent to which women’s issues have been incorporated at local government level, and concluded that municipalities tend to lag behind national policy and guidelines in giving priority to the goal of gender equality. This article summarises their findings and suggests future directions.

Separating Party Politics From Governance.

The report by COGTA on the state of South African local government clearly identifies interference by political parties as a cause of the ‘dysfunctionality’ and ‘instability’ of municipalities. As the Local Government Turnaround Strategy states, political parties are ‘undermining the integrity and functioning of municipal councils through .... inappropriate interference in councils and administration.

From the Courts: Setting Tarrifs, The Duty to Consult.

The introduction of new rates tariffs by a municipality is rarely ever greeted without public debate – or, in some instances, even conflict. In this case, the Stellenbosch Ratepayers’ Association applied for the invalidation of a rate tariff which had been introduced by the municipality.

Report on the State of Local Government.

This is a shortened version of the address by Yunus Carrim, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Leadership, to the Institute of Local Government Managers’ annual conference on 18 November 2009.

Making Local Government Work Better

Knowledge creation and sharing are intensified at the annual Knowledge Week gatherings at the DBSA, as development practitioners interact and debate current development issues that impact on the aspirations of South Africa and the region.

The Political-Administrative Interface in Local Government.

Municipalities have registered a tremendous democratic and service delivery record, yet the public perception of them is troubling. Municipalities are too often identified with corruption, inefficiency and inaccessibility. Councillors are sometimes perceived as inward-focused and too preoccupied with the political goings-on within the council and the technicalities of the municipal administration. As a consequence, there is a serious breakdown in the relationships between councillors and communities. This is evidenced by continuing community protests, directed at councillors and municipal officials.

All Hands on Deck for Local Government. President Addresses Mayors and Managers.

On 20 October 2009 President Zuma demonstrated his commitment to dealing with some of the key challenges that face local government. In a unique forum which brought together mayors, municipal managers and other key local government stakeholders, President Zuma engaged in a frank discussion about the obstacles which municipalities face in trying to fulfill their developmental and service delivery mandate. The discussion points addressed some of the root problems that continue to undermine service delivery and as such bear repeating here.

New Leaders, Persistant Challenges

The outcome of the elections of 22 April is critical for local government. The success of ‘developmental local government’ depends to a large extent on the choices the incoming national and provincial governments make around local government. For example, the review of provincial and local government, started by former Minister Sydney Mufamadi, will be completed under the auspices of the incoming national government. This article presents some perspectives of the Good Governance Learning Network (GGLN) that the incoming governments and the political parties that populate them may want to consider.

Court Condemns Political Interference in Municipal Appointment.

This judgment deals with the appointment of a municipal manager in a district municipality. It contains the strongest signal yet that the law condemns the practice of appointing municipal managers on the basis of political affiliation rather than suitability for the post.

Is this Seat Taken? Filling Vacancies During Political Turmoil.

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.

Ward Committes Revisited.

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.

From the Courta: Who Can Suspend the Municipal Manager?

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.

Rules and Orders: The Building Blocks of Good Governance

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.

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.

The Municipal Council

The Municipal Council receives ample attention in the Municipal Structures Act. The Act contains provisions on issues such as the election and removal from office of councillors, and the internal proceedings in, and the dissolution of the council. The Act also contains a Code of Conduct. This third part of our series on the structures Act summarises chapter three of the Act that deals with the municipal council, discusses the Code of Conduct as well as the ward committees and the role of traditional leaders in municipal councils.

Municipal Structures Act: Executive Leadership at Local Level.

The second pillar of new local government has been erected: on 18 December 1998 the President signed the Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998 into law. This Act, which provides for the establishment of a new generation municipalities, came into operation on 1 February 1999.

From the Courts: Elections for, and Voting in, the Council: Recent decisions.

In less than two years time, South African citizens will for the first time elect their municipal councils in a fully democratic manner. At present, local government is in a transitional period and so is the law on elections for, and voting in, the municipal council. Many disputes, relating to this topic, found their way to court. it is important to look at how the courts see this transition and how they resolved thorny issues such as the role of minority parties in executive committees, traditional leaders in the council and the problem of councillors who the municipality money. This article deals with some of the questions on this topic that were raised in court.

Local government elections

Recent amendments to the Constitution, read with certain provisions of the Municipal Structures Act, have the effect that the elections for local government, which were due to take place after October 1999, will now take place approximately one year later.

Michael Sutcliffe - Municipal Demarcation Board

Over the past two months the Municipal Demarcation Board has focused on the following: Developing a framework within which the demarcation process would occur before the 2000 elections: Building an institutional base for the board: Finally, developing relationships with stakeholders and role-players. This report briefly outlines key aspects each of these.

The Municipal Systems Act and Community participation

One of the objects of local government in terms of section 152 (1) (e) of the Constitution is to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in local government. Chapter 4 of the Municipal Systems Act deals with community participation.

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