SPEECH NOTES, DB HADDON, TO EASTERN CAPE LEGISLATURE IRREGULAR WARD COMMITTEE ELECTIONS 2011

Honourable Speaker, Madam Premier, the Executive, members of the legislature, officials and guests good afternoon.

One of the main functions of this Legislature is the upholding of the law and ensuring fair democratic processes within the law take place as prescribed.

Another key duty of this Legislature is to ensure that public participation and the will of the people takes place, is heard and acted upon.

In keeping with this principle Honourable Speaker, ward committees are the voice of the people.

We as elected public representatives cannot let the people of this province down with infighting for ward committee positions.

It is important that this “voice” is authentic and true and fairly represents the aspirations of opportunity for all our citizens.

Ward committees act as the link between the ward councillor and the community.

Ward committees deal with issues such as zoning requests, housing requests from communities, assisting with community queries, informing sectors of a ward of their interests and feed back and aspirations.

Ward committees play a pivotal role in ensuring that the ideas and wants of the community are incorporated into a ward based plan and then into the annual IDP (Integrated Development Plan) of the municipality.

It is equally important and a hall mark of democracy that ALL citizens have the opportunity to be heard, participate in and stand for election for ward committee processes IRRESPECTIVE OF PERSONAL PARTY POLITICAL BELIEFS.

The motion tabled before this parliament is to correct and regulate the flawed ward committee elections that have taken place in many municipalities in the province.

In terms of section 73 (3) a) of the Structures Act it states:

“A Metro or local council must make rules regulating the procedure to elect members of a ward committee”.

Herein lies the problem Honourable Speaker.

Many municipalities in the province have ignored this provision of the Act and gone ahead and elected members of the community to serve on these committees without following due process in terms of subsection 3a) of the Act.

As a result of this, it must be argued whether the offending wards have elected members to be that authentic voice.

Of further concern Speaker, is that these irregularly elected members are now receiving council stipends of up to R1000-00 per month. This money is being earned illegally by those members irregularly elected to ward committees.

Speaker, some of the many municipalities which come to mind where such irregular ward committee elections have taken place are in Inxuba Yethemba, Emalahleni, Lukhanji, Senqu, Inkwanca, Ikwezi and Amahlati municipalities.

These seven examples highlighted are among many wards throughout the province where the provisions of the section 73 0f the Structures Act have been deliberately flouted.

To highlight the problems in each ward affected by irregular ward committee processes would take too long for the purposes of this debate.

In the Senqu municipality, notice to convene ward committee information sessions was done on the day of the meeting.

There have been no rules by municipality to establish process to regulate and hold ward committee elections as mandated in terms of Section 73 (3) of the Municipal Structures Act.

Furthermore when a meeting was called for councillors to discuss ward committee elections there was no formal agenda and councillor s had to write down the items for an agenda being dictated to them at the meeting.

Opposition councillors were excluded from public meetings in this municipality.

In many cases ward committee election processes and public meetings were not advertised thus excluding the public at large from participating in the process.

In Ikwezi inadequate notice of meeting caused community, religious and aged sectors to be left out of the process.

Furthermore, at a meeting of this municipality names for election to the ward committee were taken from the floor and the first 5 names nominated were elected to the committee.

In Great Kei to date there have been no ward committee elections. Why?

In Buffalo City the rules, in terms of their rules, stated that ward committee elections must be conducted by the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission).

In ward 10 Buffalo City there is lawlessness created by vested interests to insert own people into the ward committee.

Activists are deliberately undermining the efforts of the ward councillor to make the ward ungovernable.

Activists are appointing themselves as ward committee members in this ward without following due process.

This is being done with impunity by sectors of the ward.

This chaotic issue has been raised by myself and two MP’s from the National Assembly for the MEC to intervene to assist in solving problems in this ward.

The request has been ignored by the office of the MEC.

This is most disappointing.

In addition, political pressure by BCM municipal officials ensured that a fair ward committee process did not occur.

The ward committee process in Nelson Mandela Bay was halted.

This was after the Democratic Alliance objected to unprocedural and unlawful manner in which constituency services were dealt with.

Speaker, not only was there no council resolution in this regard but public process in Nelson Mandela Bay was flawed with Democratic Alliance councillors only hearing about nomination of election of ward committee members days after the process took place.

Speaker there are however many more municipalities where such election procedures are being flouted and the examples of irregular elections in wards are numerous.

Speaker let us look at the scenario of each member on a ward committee earning R1000-00 per month. This amount multiplied by 10 members per ward, would equate to

R10,000-00 per month per ward = R120 000 per year x 5 = R600 000 for one ward.

If one narrowed this expense down to the seven named municipalities taking 1 ward per municipality with 10 members this would be R70,000-00 per month.

If this amount is multiplied over a 60 month (5 year) term of office for each of 7 wards only (and there are far more illegally constituted wards than this number) the amount over this period would be a minimum of R4,2 million rand in wasteful expenditure.

Speaker, the election of ward committees is vital for the effective community participation between the elected ward councillor, the community and the council.

However, Speaker, another vital ingredient of ward committees is the need for strong cultural diversity of all interest groups and stake holders in a ward.

If the voice of the people is to be authentic it must accommodate all public sectors, NGOs and others with a vested interest in a ward.

So Speaker, the DA has moved the tabled motion and asks this Legislature to agree to the remedial provisions in the motion.(Read the resolve for emphasis)

By failing to act to ignore these remedial provisions in this motion this Legislature is condoning the breaking of the law.

I so move.