Policy and regulatory framework on local government

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.

The Local Government Bulletin: Back to the Future

The Dullah Omar Institute is very proud to re-introduce the Local Government Bulletin, our regular newsletter with articles, updates and opinion pieces on local government law, policy and practice. The first Bulletin appeared in 1999, on the eve of the first democratic local government elections. The founding editors were Nico Steytler (now South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government) and Johann Mettler (now City Manager of Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality) assisted by Jaap de Visser (now Director of the Dullah Omar Institute).

The SALGA Country Guideline For Local Government on HIV and AIDS.

As one of the mandates of local AIDS councils (LACs) is to advise government on policy issues related to HIV and AIDS, political representation in the LAC helps ensure that crucial inputs on AIDS councils reach the agenda of the municipal council. This is one example of the type of local government leadership required to ensure widespread and sustainable responses to HIV and AIDS at the local level.

The Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Act.

The Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Act gives effect to section 229 (1) and 229 (2) of the Constitution and is one of the final building blocks in the creation of a regulatory framework to coordinate macro-economic tax policy objectives across all three spheres of government.

Review of the White Paper on Local Government: A Civil Society Perspective.

This submission by the Good Governance Learning Network to the local government review provides an assessment of the practice of local governance in South Africa since the introduction of the White Paper in 1998. It is structured around three key thematic areas, which we believe together encompass the entire spectrum of issues that need to be reviewed

Local Government Under the Spotlight: DPLG's Policy Review Process

On 31 July 2007, the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) initiated a policy review process of provincial and local government. It will ultimately result in a first White Paper on Provinces and a discussion document on local government. The process will be a national debate, comprising a public participation process, research and a review of experience.

HIV and AIDS: Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality's Response.

HIV&AIDS is much more than a health problem. It is a developmental challenge that affects local government in various ways. in the last issue, we looked at how municipalities can apply the concept of mainstreaming as a strategic way to address this enormous challenge and Ethekwini Metro shared their experience and lesson learnt.

Return to Sender: Municipalities and the Postal Services Act

The Postal Services Act of 1998 stipulates that delivery of all "letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels..." is a reserved service which may only be performed by a licensed provider. The delivery of Bills, statements of accounts, notices and such documents sent by municipalities to consumers of municipal services falls within the definition of reserved services.

Legal Briefs.

Does Item 12 of the Code of Conduct for Councillors prevent Councillors from acquiring municipal property?

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.

The Duty to Involve the Public: The Constitutional Court Speaks.

The Constitutional Twelfth Amendment Act altered the basis for determining provincial boundaries and resulted in, among other things, in the changing of provincial boundaries between Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It effectively relocated the local municipality of Matatiele from Sisonke District Municipality in KwaZulu Natal to the Alfred Nzo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape and relocated Umzimkhulu Local Municipality from Alfred Nzo District Municipality into the Sisonke District Municipality in KwaZulu Natal.

Rooting Out Corruption: Code of Conduct and Disclosures of Financial Interests.

Councillors are elected to represent local communities on municipal councils, to ensure that municipalities are accountable to their communities. In fulfilling this mandate, councillors must abide by the Code of Conduct as set out in Schedule 5 of the Municipal Structures Act, which requires them, among other things, to disclose their financial interests and refrain from using their positions as councillors for personal gain.

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.

Section 62 Appeals: A tender process.

Many people aggrieved by decisions made by municipalities have latched on to the fact that they have a right to appeal in terms of section 62 of the Municipal Systems Act. Municipalities have recently experienced a significant increase in the number of appeals lodged in terms of section 62. This has led to municipalities having to grapple with the parameters and practical implications of section 62. This article highlights a few difficulties in this regard.

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 Property Rates Act: A Tool For Poverty Alleviation.

Property rates are an important source of revenue for municipalities and this is reflected in the preamble to the Property Rates Act of 2004.There is a need to provide local government with access to a sufficient and buoyant source of revenue necessary to fulfil its developmental objectives. At the same time, however, a municipality's financial health should not be attained at the unjustifiable expense of the poor within its area. The power to impose rates should take into account the imbalances of the past and the burden of rates on the poor.

Cross-Boundary Municipalities to Dissapear: New Provincial Borders.

Cross-boundary municipalities are set to disappear on the date of the forthcoming elections local government election. On that date, provincial borders and the current cross boundary municipalities will be incorporated in one or other province. Five provinces are affected by the disappearances of 16 cross border municipalities. In addition, there will be a shift of municipalities between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Who Can Dismiss a Municipal Manager?

The recent controversy surrounding the municipal manager of the Central Karoo District Municipality raised important questions regarding which sphere of government is responsible for the conduct of a municipal manager. Ultimately , who has the power to dismiss a municipal manager?

The PPP Procurement Process.

The Public-Private Partnership procurement process overlaps in many respect with the recently published Supply Chain Management Regulations. The overlap occurs where a proposed transaction is both a PPP and one of the matters to which the SCM regulations apply. Although the focus in this article is not on the SCM regulations, any attempt to discuss the PPP procurement process separately from the SC, regulations would be incomplete.

Service Delivery Agreements: Renegotiations and Amendments.

Contract renegotiations and amendments are a relatively common feature of long-term service delivery agreements and public-private partnerships. The legislature has recognised this in existing and newly promulgated legislation which clearly aims to limit risks associated with contract amendments.

Property Rates Act in Operation.

After some delays, the Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004 was finally brought into operation on 1 July 2005. This comprehensive Act institutes a uniform structure to the levying of property rates, which was previously governed a number of old provincial ordinances. This article highlights only a number of key features of the Act.

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.

The New Municipal PPP Regulations.

Regulations governing public/private partnerships in the local government sphere came into effect on 1 April 2005. Section 120 of the Municipal Finance Management Act also regulates PPP's and the new PPP regulations have the effect of elaborating or expanding on some of the concepts introduced in section 120.

Service Delivery Agreements: Who Reads Them?

Who can own up to having read a standard service delivery agreement from start to finish and having understood it all? Very few people, i imagine. In the main, service delivery agreements are notoriously long, complex and wordy and are usually filled with legalese. They make little attempt to help the reader gain a meaningful understanding of the basic terms governing the contracting parties relationship. In short, they are inaccessible to the ordinary reader.

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.

Applying the New Section 139 Intervention Powers: Issues Arising from Practice.

Section 139 of the Constitution permits a provincial government to intervene in the affairs of a municipality under certain specified circumstances of non-performance. Such an intervention has serious consequences for the municipal council's authority to govern. In 2003, provincial government's intervention powers were increased significantly. Most importantly, the revised wording for the dissolution of a council and for interventions in the event of so-called financial emergencies.

Single Public Service: Challenges Ahead

For many years, municipal councils have enjoyed the freedom to determine the recruitment, appointments, promotions, transfers and dismissals of their employees. This is in line with section 160 (1) (c) of the Constitution, which provides that a municipality may employ personnel that are necessary for the effective performance of its function.

Salga's New Constitution.

At its National Conference in September 2004, Salga adopted a new constitution that makes fundamental changes in how organised local government functions in South Africa.

Salary Increases For Councillors.

Councillors may see an increase of 7% in their salaries, benefits and allowances. This was the recommendation to the President by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers.

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.

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.

From the Courts: Property Rates on Agricultural Land

The issue before the Court in Boshoff v Nkwetana Munisipaliteit 1935/2003 FS was whether the municipality had the authority to levy rates on agricultural land and whether it followed the correct procedure in doing so.

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.

Strategic Framework for Water Services: Water is Life, Sanitation is Dignity.

Eight years after the White Paper on Water Supply and Sanitation was published, the National Cabinet approved the strategic framework for Water Services on 17 September 2003. Much has been achieved and the White Paper was used a departure point in formulating the framework, but since 1994 the context has changed significantly.

No Safeguards for Municipal Property.

The recent judgment in the appeal case of Munisipaliteit van Ngwane & Vrystaat Munisipale Pesioenfonds 254/ 2002 AD has attracted much attention and comment from local government practitioners. At issue is whether a municipality falls within the definition of 'state' as referred to in the State Liability Act 20 of 1957, in terms of which no warrant of execution cab be issued against any state owned property.

Municipal Services: Is Chapter 8 of the Systems Act a Help or a Hindrance?

The new definition of municipal services puts even more services within the ambit of Chapter 8 of the Systems Act. Municipalities are already under heavy pressure to extend and improve delivery of municipal services.Chapter 8 of the Systems Act is supposed to facilitate this process, but it is questionable whether it achieves its purpose or whether it instead puts additional burden on already limited municipal resources.

From the Courts: Licence to Trade: Who decides?

Six informal beach traders made an urgent review application to the Cape High Court in December 2002 against the City of Cape Town after their applications for trading permits for 2002/03 were unsuccessful.

Citizen's Access to Information: The Information Manual

The Bill of Rights provides that any person has the right of access to any information held by the state. This includes information held by a municipality. The Constitution further provides that national legislation must be enacted to give effect to this right. This prompted the Promotion of Access to Information Act 2 of 2002.

The Delegation System: Who Does What?

All municipalities must develop a system of delegation in terms of the Municipal Systems Act. A delegation is when a person or structure delegates functions that originally vested in it to another person or structure to do.

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.

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

President's Coordinating Council sets Agenda for Local Government

At a special President's Coordinating Council (PCC) workshop on 14 December 2001, the agenda was set for building a strong and development-oriented local government. The PCC adopted wide-ranging resolutions which chart the way forward in both the short and medium term.

Municipal Finance Management Bill under Scrutiny

During February and March 2002, the National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Finance received submissions on the Municipal Finance Management Bill. This article summarises concerns about the Bill which were raised by the Community Law Centre.

Crossing the floor: Proposed Constitutional Amendments

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has published a proposal to amend Constitutional provisions for municipal elections. The new provisions would, among other things, allow councillors to cross the floor without losing their seats.

The Future of Local Government: According To The ANC.

The ANC’s National General Council (NGC) is a forum at which the organisation’s progress and challenges are reviewed between national conferences. It is the highest body of the ANC, after the national congress, and convenes every five years. The third NGC, which sought to review the ANC’s performance against policies adopted by the Polokwane conference, was held in Durban in September. Its important outcome for the local governance sector is that there will soon be a summit on local government.

Laying the Foundation for the Local Government Turnaround Strategy.

After a decade of significant advancement in the provision of services to all communities, the Policy Review on Provincial and Local Government (COGTA 2009) and other research demonstrated that confidence in government at the local level has begun to decline sharply. Service delivery protests and dissatisfaction with local government have increased over the past few years, with growing evidence that faltering service provision, poor capacity and weak administration have driven many municipalities into ‘distress’ mode.

Formulating the Pillars of a Turnaround Strategy

The Community Law Centre recently brought local government practitioners together to discuss the elements that are fundamental to any turnaround strategy. The following recommendations are some of the key deliberations of that meeting.

Budget Regulations and Formats 2009.

The Municipal Budget and Reporting Regulations (‘Budget Regulations’) came into operation in April 2009. They give further content to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) of 2004 and regulate issues such as municipal financial policies, the annual budget, adjustment budgets, in-year reporting and noncompliance with time provisions. Furthermore, the Budget Regulations aim to provide clearer and more stringent regulations around matters of unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure. They also deal with expenditure that is unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful.

Tackling the Developmental Challenge Head On.

Constitutional democracies are often ‘messy’. Systems in a democracy are largely dependent on a number of processes. If these processes are not synchronised, it may lead to development trajectories that are not determined by common visions, but are rather informed by the vicissitudes of those who participate in those processes.

All Shapes and Sizes

Local government, in its democratic form, is a mere nine years old. However, the amalgamation and consolidation of municipalities and the establishment of new ones have all taken place at different times. The result is that the exact stage of development in which any given municipality finds itself may differ vastly from that of its neighbour. In the pursuit of developmental local government, the establishment, consolidation and sustainability phases that the sphere has undergone (and continues to undergo) have been well documented.

Ward Funding Guidelines: Posing More Questions Than Answers?

The drafting of the framework seems to suggest that the discretion afforded to municipalities in legislation in terms of funding ward committees has not been properly exercised. (Why else would a national department seek to legislate in this matter?) It is also possible, in an era when many municipalities face claims of financial mismanagement and maladministration, that the drafters wanted a clear model for ward funding in order to avoid perceptions of irregularity. Research on ward committees to date does not suggest that either of these issues should have been a priority for DPLG. What is fairly apparent is that for various reasons there has long been pressure to disburse more money to ward committee members and that countrywide the ward committee system seems to have faltered.This article provides a brief overview as well as a critique of the key components of this framework.

The New State Liability Bill.

This article critically assesses the Bill and the proposed constitutional amendment, particularly in respect of their impact on local government. In so-doing, it will examine the case law and legislative developments that preceded these bills.

The National Land Transport Act

The long-awaited National Land Transport Act was signed into effect by the President on 3 April 2009. It deals comprehensively with all aspects of transport, including the provision, regulation and funding of public transport and the taxi industry. It is the product of numerous efforts over the past decade to outline each sphere of government’s responsibilities. Importantly, it envisages a significant role for municipalities.

Upper Limits for Property Rates.

The Minister may prescribe a ratio between the rate on residential property and that on any non-residential properties.In terms of the regulations the rate on agricultural properties may not be more than 25% of that imposed on residential properties. Agricultural properties are defined as farm properties used for agricultural purposes, farm properties not used for any purpose, or smallholdings used for agricultural purposes. The term ‘agricultural purpose’ excludes the use of a farm property for the purpose of ecotourism or for the trading in or hunting of game.

Framework for Condoning Non-Compliance with Property Rates Act

Condonation may be given only on good cause shown and the MEC may impose conditions. However, the MEC must exercise this power within a framework prescribed by the Minister responsible for local government, which was issued by the Minister on 29 April 2009.

The Right to a View.

When first confronted by the facts of the case in The Municipality of the City of Cape Town v Reader and Others, one is tempted to think that it is yet another judgment dealing with the notorious question of whether property owners have a ‘right to a view’. This is especially true as the facts bear a striking similarity to earlier judgments that have dealt with this issue. This judgment, however, stops short of deciding whether the applicants are in fact entitled to ‘a view’. It deals rather with the question of whether the appeal procedures set out in section 62 of the Municipal Systems Act afford interested third parties (very often neighbours) affected by the planning decisions of a municipality an adequate platform from which to appeal those decisions.

The End of An Era: The Abolition of Floor Crossing.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

The Demise of Local Democracy?

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.

The New Municipal Property Rates Regulations: Mere regulation or Irrational Ratios?

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.

Subsidiarity in the Constitution.

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.

The Strangulation of Local Government: Stifling Innovation, Experimentation and Local Responsiveness

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.

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

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.

New Electricity Regulations: Shocking Municipalities Into Action?

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 Duty To Have Meaningful Engagement Before An Eviction.

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.

Facing the Language Challenge

The entrenchment of multi-lingualism in section 6 of the 1996 Constitution confronts the South African government with the obligation to design and put into practice a language policy that will give effect to the constitutional directives on multi-lingualism.

Evictions: Municipalities and the Constitution: The Right to Housing.

Two court cases dealing with evictions: Case One: Vanessa Ross v South Peninsula Municipality (1999) JOL 5298 (C). Case Two: Grootboom and Others v Oostenberg Municipality, Cape Metropolitan Council, Premier of the Province of the Western Cape, National Housing Board and Government of the Republic of South Africa (Case no: 6826/99)0

From the Courts:

Does a Town Clerk have the Authority to Institute Legal Proceedings on Behalf of the Municipality?

Employment Equity Act

There are those who say that the old South Africa is alive and well in the workplace. The upper levels of many organisations remain white and male dominated. Left to market forces, transformation proceeds at a snails pace.

Municipal Systems Bill: Erecting the Third Pillar

On 6 August 1999, Minister Mufamadi published the Local Government: Municipal Systems Bill, 1999 for public comment. The Bill. after due consideration of any comments, should enter the parliamentary process by the end of October 1999 at which stage the public will be given a further opportunity, in the form of public hearings, to make representations.

The Right to Equal Treatment by a Municipality

The immense importance of the principle of equality in this country is reflected in the very first section of the Constitution in which it is stated that the achievement of equality is one of the founding values of the Republic. Local authorities in particular, have been subjected to many court cases in which their acts or legislative provisions, whether they concerned property or electricity, rates, zoning conditions or even dog licenses, have been alleged to be in conflict with the equality clause.

From SALGA: Legal and Constitutional Working Group

The South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the body representing the local government sphere nationally, as well as its provincial affiliates have recognised the need to ensure that organised local government plays a meaningful role in shaping legislation transforming local government.

Status of local government

The Constitutional Court has affirmed that the new constitutional order confers on local government the status of an autonomous and distinct component of government. Local government is no longer merely exercising powers delegated to it by the national or provincial government: Instead municipal councils are legislative assemblies and their legislative acts, which include levying taxes and adopting budgets, are not subject to administrative review by the courts. Although decided under the interim Constitution, the decision in Fedsure Life Assurance Ltd v Greater Johannesburg Transitional Metropolitan Council 1999 (12) BCLR 1458 (CC) reinforces the new and increased status the 1996 Constitution accords local government.

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.

Amendments to the Structures Act: Last Minute Changes

On 21 September 2000 the National Assembly approved important amendments to the Municipal Structures Act. The National Council of Provinces Approved the bill on 3 October. It is expected that the Local Government Structures Amendment Bill B51B-2000 will become law by middle-October.

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