The dissolving of Ward Committees in the Nelson Mandela Metro last month is suspicious and tightens to noose around the necks of already suffocating ratepayers.

All 60 Metro Ward Committees were dissolved, with effect from 11 September 2009, by pulling a Council resolution out of the bag which dates back to 2001. It is alleged that the ANC has embarked on a purge to get rid of Cope-aligned members. This goes against the spirit that encourages ward committees to be apolitical.

The events surrounding the dissolution of the ward committees are most suspicious.
In terms of Section 73 of the Municipal Structures Act,(Act 117 of 1998) a council determines the time period for the life of ward committees. A resolution was passed in 2001 where it was decided that the ward committees would sit for a maximum of two and a half years (30 months). However, this was never carried out and the ward committees sat for the full term of the council (and each ward councillor), which was a five year period ending in December 2005.

It is therefore strange that the Council is being selective and applying the resolution of 2001 now, when it was not carried out in the previous term.

Ratepayers are facing paying a minimum of R3 million over the next three years to finance ward committees that in the majority of cases are carrying out an ANC agenda. It will cost an estimated R1, 5 million to organise 60 ward committee elections in November 2009. This includes deploying Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials at every voting station in every ward, and the training and induction of new ward committees. After the 2011 local government elections the whole process will be repeated again, at increased cost.

The current ward committee incumbents underwent expensive IT- and other training which may now be wasted if such new found skills cannot be maintained or used by outgoing members.

The 600 cell phones issued to 50 ward committee members have been “gifted” to them so assuming a new body of 600 members (10 members per ward) are elected this is another expense ratepayers must bear for very little in return.

Currently ward committee members get a small stipend for attending ward committee meetings which is contrary to section 73 of the act: ward committee members are volunteers who receive no remuneration. There are also allegations that in future ward committee members will get paid in excess of R1 000 per month, with cell phone perks and a cell phone.

The DA believes ward committees should be elected for the full five year term of each council.
By so doing, a ward can knuckle down to issues and projects without the disruption. Over time skills development and talents of incumbent members can be used for the benefit of the ward and city for the full duration of the ward committee term.

For further information, please contact Dacre Haddon, MPL on 0796943788

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