The DA motion to have illegally constituted ward committees nullified will be debated in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature today.
Below is one of my previous statements on this issue which was sent out on 13 September 2011:
The Democratic Alliance will be proposing a motion with notice to have illegally constituted ward committee elections in the province nullified.
As the DA spokesperson on local government in the province I will be tabling this motion at the sitting of the Legislature this afternoon (subs: Tues, 13 Sept). For the motion click here.
Questions to the MEC for Local Government, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, remain unanswered in this regard and despite undertakings by the MEC that he would attend to the matter, nothing has been done.
The motion, which seeks to force municipalities to adhere to Section 73 (3) of the Municipal Structures Act, will also be asking that all ward committee members who were elected irregularly pay back any stipend they may have received from a municipality so far.
Public participation in the ward committee system is the most regular way for interaction between ward councillors, the council, municipality and the public. This affects matters that are important to communities, such as the issuing of liquor licences, rezoning and input into the IDP of a municipality through ward plans.
A transparent electoral system that accommodates all sectors of a community into the ward committee process is imperative and must be done in accordance with the law.
What is happening now is a free for all where councils and municipalities are electing members against legislated procedure to fill secular and political party interests of a particular group in a community.
Therefore this motion is being presented at Legislature level to obtain committed action, legal compliance and transparency in this system.
For my previous statements on this issue click here and here.
Response to the Notice of Motion on the Election of Ward Committees in municipalities of the Eastern cape by Acting Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC, Thandiswa Marawu, 06 December 2011, Eastern Cape legislature.
Honourable Speaker of this House,
Honourable Members of this august house,
Members of the Executive Council present here,
Members of the public in the gallery,
Members of the Media,
It is congruent that, in responding to the motion presented to the House by Honourable Dacre Haddon of the Democratic Alliance; we set the record straight so as to stop further creation of confusion regarding the election of Ward committees in our local and metropolitan municipalities.
The commitment of the ANC led government in ensuring proper election of Ward Committees is exhibited by what we said in our local Government elections manifesto, that: “Local Government and communities face major challenges- reducing unemployment, more access to better quality basic services, overcoming the legacy of apartheid spatial development, strengthening community participation and building effective accountable and clean local government.”
Ward committees are critical in ensuring this as part of building better communities. In resolving issues with regards to the election of these Ward Committees, we will not be forced by the DA to act on an emotional caprice, we will conduct thorough investigations and respond according to our findings.
We harbour no intentions to nullify elected Ward Committees at the drop of a hat. We will work with those who submitted complaints and affected municipalities to resolve the disputes, guided by the relevant laws and policies.
Ward committees are established by means of law and that explains without doubt that they are a statutory component of a municipality. Section 12 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act allows the MEC to establish municipalities in this province.
The election of Ward Committees derives its legislative outlook from, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, the 1993 Local Government White Paper, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act and the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act.
The May 2011 local government elections necessitated the establishment of Ward Committees in 39 muninicipalities of the province, excluding district municipalities as they constitute the third component of the municipality.
Chapter 7 Section 152(1)(e) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa states that local government should encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.
Subsequent to the local government elections, all 36 local municipalities and 2 metropolitan municipalities embarked on the ward committee election process, except the Baviaans municipality which decided not to elect its Ward Committees until the next financial year, citing lack of policy and budget for its operations.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has started its election process but had to stop due to unresolved internal disputes, while the Buffalo City Metro is in the process of completing its election process.
This process was kicked off by the Ward Committee election policy development guidelines sent to all 39 Municipalities by the Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs to help guide municipalities in developing their own idiosyncratic policies.
Only 4 local municipalities are yet to complete the election process, owing to a number of disputes registered with them and brought to the attention of our Department. We must place it on record that, there were other disputes from municipalities such as Ikhwezi which the Department attended and resolved.
The law guiding the establishment of these Committees indicates that they must be elected 3 moths after the local government elections. However, in our province, we were hamstrung by two things. The first being the lack of institutionalised policies in all municipalities to guide this process, the second thing was the fact that some municipalities appear to have acted contrary to the guidelines and the law.
Our responsibility as the Department is to investigate these disputes, take decisions to ensure proper compliance with the law.
We are interacting with Mayors and Speakers of the 4 concerned municipalities where there are still unresolved disputes, these are, King Sabatha Dalindyebo (4 Wards) , Tsolwana (1 Ward), Nkonkobe (3 Wards) and Maletswai (2 Wards) local municipalities.
Where we find evidence of an election process having breached the law or having been contrary to the dictates of the law, we will nullify election of Ward Committees and start the process afresh.
We must also state that, as the Department, we are committed to ensuring that all municipalities have properly elected Ward Committees who will work with the municipalities to help build better communities. Delays in these elections are delays in ensuring proper delivery of services to our people as these Committees are central in the work of municipalities.
A report chronicling the election of Ward Committees in each municipality will be compiled and our Department will then respond to each challenge and recommendation. This includes ensuring that all Municipalities institutionalise the development of Ward Committee Election policy so that that the Council that will come after the next elections will not be delayed by developing policies but will hit the ground running by facilitating election of Ward Committees within the specified time.
All Eastern Cape municipal councils were reminded about their statutory mandate of establishing Ward Committees. Circular number one was circulated to all municipalities advising them about this mandate.
A provincial meeting wherein all municipalities were invited to discuss the Ward Committee election was convened and was co-chaired by our Department and the South African Local Government Association.
Elections of Ward Committees were conducted within various municipalities and reports were asked through a questionnaire developed by the Department.
It was clear from the responses of some municipalities that glitches were experienced in some municipalities. Other municipalities never responded to the questionnaire which made it difficult to have an insight about the outcomes of some Ward Committee elections.
Two training sessions were conducted focussing on municipal officials, Community Development Workers, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the South African Local Government Association, the Eastern Cape Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs, external facilitators, Statistic South Africa and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The two latter organisations were involved for establishing working relationship with these insttituons, amongst other things.
The Provincial induction schedule was developed and endorsed by all involved institutions. The Department made available the operational budget of R350.000.00 to support municipalities during induction period.
It was clearly stated in all training sessions and in Speakers forums that municipal wards that have queries will not be considered for induction. Our external facilitators were utilised in most municipalities except for Ingquza Hill, Ngqushwa, Lundini, Maletswai, Amahlathi, Matatiele and Mbashe municipalities.
Though these municipalities decided to carry on with their induction all queries were attended to. For instance there was a query lodged at ward 6 of Amahlathi local municipaltiy to which the Department responded by dispatching a team that is working to resolve the query.
The Department had to reverse induction dates of Ikhwezi, Nkonkobe and King Sabatha Dalindyebo municipalities due to unresolved problems. It was categorically stated that Ward Committees with disputes should not be inducted and allowed to commence with their duties until all disputes have been resolved. We must also put it on record that no stipend will be paid to Ward Committee members whose election still have disputes or queries.
Honourable Members, all Municipalities were informed about all these conditions. Other municipalities do not even have their own policy on the establishment of Ward Committees. Speakers of some Councils tend to neglect complaints raised by communities.
Opposition parties must refrain from making challenges that crop out of the election of Ward Committees a political football. They must mature to a point where they play a positive role towards assisting these municipalities to ensure proper elections of these Committees. That’s what leadership is all about.