EC WARD COMMITTEES ON TRACK: DAILY DISPATCH

ONLY two municipalities in the Eastern Cape are yet to complete the process of appointing ward committees.

This was revealed by the department of local government and traditional affairs yesterday when spokesman Mvuyisiwekhaya Sicwetsha said 37 of the province’s 39 local authorities, including the metros, had completed the process.

The province’s six district municipalities are not required to have ward committees.

But opposition parties have raised concerns about whether due process had been given to the appointments in those municipalities that have ward committees.

Sicwetsha identified Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (NMBM) and the Baviaans Local Municipality as the only local authorities yet to fulfil the government requirement.

In the NMBM the DA caucus claims due processes were not being followed and is gearing up to approach the courts to restart the process.

Public participation is a cornerstone in the ruling party’s strategy to optimise use of government resources at local level.

And ward committees, the link between communities and councillors, play a critical role in strengthening the citizens’ voice within the chambers.

Sicwetsha said failure to form the committees limited public participation and he warned his department could be prompted to intervene.

“What have they been doing in the past five years?” he asked.

“It boggles the mind that some say they had not prepared for this. It’s law and has to be followed.”

Baviaans municipal manager Jama Vumazonke admitted the town was currently unprepared for the process, saying council would only discuss clear guidelines and policy at the end of the month.

“We also have problems because we did not make provision for this in this year’s budget and will only rectify it during the mid-term adjustment in January,” he said.

He added public participation would not be affected because the town’s ward councillors kept an open line to residents.

The province’s newest metro, Buffalo City, yesterday published its complete list of ward committee members in its 50 wards.

The DA’s spokesman on local government in the province, Dacre Haddon, said there were several cases where municipalities were found to have not followed legislation governing election of ward committees.

Municipalities, he said, were either not letting councillors discuss and formulate rules to be used, or rules were not followed when committees were elected.

He claimed that because ward committee members earned stipends, the ruling party often used committees as a means to employ loyalists.

Haddon said the DA had tabled a motion in the provincial parliament to have municipalities repeat the process if they were found to have not followed regulations. — sabelos@dispatch.co.za