Many municipalities in the province have flouted democratic legislated procedures in electing community ward committees. I have written to the MEC for Local Government in the province requesting him to investigate the procedures of all ward committee elections and nullify those where correct procedure did not take place.
A ward committee is non-political and required to be established in every municipal ward in the country.
Section 73 of the Municipal Structures Act states that a council must make rules that regulate the procedure to elect community members to ward committees.
Herein lies the main problem.
Many municipalities in the province have simply gone ahead and “elected” members to committees without making the necessary rules required.
Timeous, adequate notice was not given to many residents in wards to be able to participate, stand for or participate in such elections.
This has lead to unhappiness and suspicion among communities.
Of concern is that the abuse appears to be widespread. Ward committee members can earn remuneration of up to R1 000 per month.
It is important that ward committee members are elected in a fair and transparent manner with the desire to serve the community and to earn their stipend accordingly. Community participation is vital to ensure that diversity, interest groups and gender interests are represented on every ward committee.
Ward committees are the main body that regularly interact with the community and together assist in compiling a ward plan that is meshed into an Integrated Development Plan that drives the allocated budget for each ward and municipality.
In the Ikwezi Municipality some sixty percent of the community organisations were not given adequate notice to nominate representatives. Organisations such as for the aged and civic residents associations were excluded in this area.
In Inxuba Yethemba Municipality in ward 5, late nominations were accepted from the floor at a meeting despite the expired deadline date for written nominations.
In Inkwanca Municipality notice to convene elections was done on the same day that elections were to take place to elect members. At that meeting the mayor allegedly merely accepted the first five names proposed without allowing a due public election process to take place.
The ward committee elections at Emalahleni, Lukhanji and Senqu municipalities went ahead without due legislated process taking place.
I am informed that there have been similar electoral irregularities in other wards in municipalities in the province.
With the current levels of community anger at the lack of municipal services it is important that every ward committee is elected in a transparent manner, representing every community interest.