Local Government Turnaround Strategy; Funding Model for Ward Committee Members; Participation of Municipal Staff Members as Candidates for National, Provincial and Municipal Elections Draft Regulations; Disaster Management Volunteer Draft Regulations

Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Disaster management volunteer draft regulations: The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) described the powers given to the Minister of the Department in case of a disaster, whether men made or natural, and the allowances given to the Minister when the need arose to bring in volunteers in a disaster hit area. COGTA had held many discussions with stakeholders prior to finishing the proposed draft and took on board the recommendations made by the Chief State Law Adviser. The final draft would reflect these additions and would be formally accepted upon the draft being approved by Parliament.

Draft Regulations on Participation of Municipal Staff Members as Candidates for National, Provincial and Municipal Elections: COGTA illustrated how the monitoring of elections would be done and the amount of leeway that would be granted to candidates already under municipal employ seeking elective office. COGTA made it clear that every municipal employee seeking elective office had the right to do so under the Constitution regardless of their previously held position. The Department had consulted various provincial, local government and national structures in preparing the regulations and had taken on board their recommendations.

Local Government Turnaround Strategy: COGTA presented proposals for alleviating some of the problems affecting local government. The Department noted the importance of having an effective local government structure that dealt with the concerns of its people efficiently. The Department endeavoured to improve the quantity and quality of municipal basic services, enhance the municipal contribution to job creation and sustainable livelihoods through Local Economic Development (LED). It also sought to ensure the development & adoption of reliable and credible Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and to deepen democracy through a refined Ward Committee model amongst other things in its quest to fix an ineffective Local Government.

Funding Model for Ward Committee Members: Municipalities would be expected to take on the task of drafting their own budgets with regard to out of pocket expenses and then sending them to their respective MECs for approval. Municipalities would be given guidelines to follow from their provincial governments to ensure prudent and non-wasteful spending which would garner the best results for the citizenry.  

Members’ questions showed a real concern amongst them about the effectiveness of the proposed regulations for municipal staff participation in elections, in preventing corrupt practices by such candidates. They highlighted the loose nature of the proposed regulations monitoring the activities of these candidates. Also of concern was the provision which allowed full-time councillors to have employment outside of their public roles. They asked what were the criteria used for determining the amount of funding given to candidates for elections was and what access the candidates had to municipal resources prior to and leading up to a municipal election. They asked about the frequency of meetings for elected municipal candidates and who determined the frequency of these meetings.


Meeting report

Draft Disaster Management Volunteer Regulations
Mr George Kilian, Senior Manager: COGTA, spoke about the powers given to the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in case of a disaster, whether man made or natural, and the allowances given to the Minister when the need arose to bring in volunteers in a disaster hit area.

These included the assembling of a command structure of a unit of volunteers; components within a unit of volunteers, the requirements for, and recruitment of, a volunteer; the manner in which any member of a unit of volunteers was to be activated and deployed; the training of volunteers; the use of equipment by volunteers. The defraying of expenses incurred by volunteers; uniforms of volunteers; insignia to be worn by different units of volunteers; different components within a unit of volunteers; different positions of command within a unit of volunteers; and the transfer of a volunteer from one unit of volunteers to another. These recommendations were included in the draft which was to be approved by Parliament.

Draft Regulations on Participation of Municipal Staff Members as Candidates for National, Provincial & Municipal Elections
Mr Tebogo Motlasuping, Senior Manager: IDS, presented the Committee with draft proposals for regulations on municipal staff members who decided to be candidates for national, provincial and municipal elections. The Department noted that municipalities would be able to effectively manage staff members who stand for public office in any election; Participation of a municipal staff member in any election would have consequences.
A municipal staff member would be deemed to have resigned from employment from the date of occupation on a full time basis, the designated public office, either in the national Parliament, provincial Legislature or Municipal Council.

A municipal staff member who was a candidate for any election and was not elected to public office would retain employment in the municipality.
A municipal staff member who chose to participate as a candidate for any election and was issued with a certificate in terms of Section 31(3) of the 1998 Electoral Act, should take leave from not later than the next working day. The proposed regulations would also ensure stability in the administration of the municipality and continuation of uninterrupted service delivery during the period of any election.

Local Government Turnaround Strategy
Ms Marietjie Kruger, Executive Manager: Local Government Turnaround Strategy identified the root causes for some of the problems experienced in the Local Government system included:
a. Systemic factors, that is, linked to the model of local government;
b. Policy and legislative factors;
c. Political factors;
d. Weaknesses in the accountability systems;
e. Capacity and skills constraints;
f. Weak intergovernmental support and oversight; and
g. Issues associated with the inter-governmental fiscal system.


COGTA presented its strategy for local government
structures with a ten point plan which included:
▪ Improving the quantity and quality of municipal basic services to the people in the areas of access to water, sanitation, electricity, waste management, roads and disaster management
▪ Enhance the municipal contribution to job creation and sustainable livelihoods through Local Economic Development (LED)
▪ Ensure the development & adoption of reliable and credible Integrated Development Plans (IDPs)
▪ Deepen democracy through a refined Ward Committee model
▪ Build and strengthen the administrative, institutional and financial capabilities of municipalities
▪ Create a single window of coordination for the support, monitoring and intervention in municipalities
▪ Uproot fraud, corruption, nepotism and all forms of maladministration affecting local government
▪ Develop a coherent and cohesive system of governance and a more equitable intergovernmental fiscal system
▪ Develop and strengthen a politically and administratively stable system of municipalities
▪ Restore the institutional integrity of municipalities.

The progress to date was explained with the vast majority of Municipal Turnaround Strategies (MTAS) ready by 30 April and awaiting Council approval in July 2010. COGTA MinMEC (March 2010) had decided that Rapid Response Teams must be established at all three levels of government to address the challenges & grievances of communities. Policy and Legislative Reforms to improve Cooperative Governance and Local Government: Proposed legislation will be submitted to Parliament during 2010/11 on key areas (such as prohibition of municipal officials from holding political office bearing positions, consultation with the MEC / Minister on the appointment / suspension / dismissal processes of S57 staff; new Bill on Interventions in provinces and Municipalities).

The briefing then looked at Phase 4 which was the Implementation phase. It identified the challenges and what needed to be done differently and the changes required to existing institutional arrangements, management processes and skills. Finally it looked at six critical issues needing attention going forward (see document).




Funding Model for Ward Committee Members
Mr Justice Mohlala, Senior Manager: COGTA, explained that in October 2008 the Local Government Laws Amendment Act was promulgated. Part of it amended Section 73(5)(a) & (e) of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act,

 which stated that:

“ (b) A metro or local council must develop a policy and determine criteria for and calculation of the out of pocket expenses referred to in paragraph (c) based on a provincial framework determined by the MEC subject to paragraph (e).

 

(e) The Minister must determine a national framework including criteria for the calculation of the out of pocket expenses referred to in paragraph (b)”



The purpose of this was:
▪ To improve ward committee functionality by ensuring that ward committee members are more active and able to effectively support their elected ward councillors to serve the community.

 

▪ To reimburse ward committee members with any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that they may have reasonably incurred in undertaking their duties.

▪ To provide guidelines for provinces to develop provincial specific frameworks within which metropolitan and local councils should set policies for the payment of out of pocket expenses for ward committee members.

 

 


The role of municipalities was to provide: a
ccess to office space and equipment;

technical and administrative assistance through dedicated municipal staff; communication material and community interaction systems and campaigns; out of pocket expenses for ward committee members. Cost determinants were the size and population of the wards; number of wards; frequency of meetings; revenue base. The funding sources would be the Municipal Own Revenue Sources; Local Government Equitable Share (LGES); Municipal Systems Improvement Grant (MSIG).


Discussion
Mr A Watson (DA; Mpumalanga) asked whether the draft regulations for municipal workers were sufficient enough to prevent corruption prior to and leading up to elections at a local, municipal and national level. He asked whether enough would be done by the regulations to prevent corrupt interactions between candidates and municipal electoral officers leading up to an election.

Mr Motlasuping replied that it was not conducive for the department to try to regulate areas which were clear under the Constitution about every municipal worker’s right to run for office. The regulations stipulated that candidates could not have access to municipal resources leading up to an election and corrupt practices would be monitored closely and dealt with where necessary.

Mr B Nesi (ANC; Eastern Cape) commented that people with moral order were lacking in the country and said that the proposed regulations were too loose and did not appear on paper to do enough.

Mr A Matila (ANC; Gauteng) asked how COGTA would limit corruption in elections as noted by Mr Watson. He said the proposed regulations for candidates were too vague and needed to be more specific in order to effectively monitor such a candidate’s activities prior to municipal elections.

Mr Motlasuping replied that the Department would monitor any occurrences closely and deal with these where they arose. 

Mr Siphiwo Piti, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) representative, voiced his misgivings about the new regulations and proposed that they be more specific. He asked whether a candidate had to leave his place of employ once he/she had declared their candidacy for municipal office.

Mr Motlasuping explained that a person who received a candidacy certificate was expected to take annual leave once they declared their candidacy and then resign their job if they were elected to the municipality. 

Mr Matila said that he was growing more apprehensive over the proposed regulations as the presentation went on due to his fear that municipal elections would become wholly politicised as opposed to being solely about the people living in those municipalities.

Mr Watson said that he did not believe COGTA had looked at the election process regulations closely enough.

Mr Nesi expressed his concern about the loopholes he foresaw which allowed full time municipal councillors to hold jobs elsewhere. 

Mr Motlasuping reiterated that elected counselors had to resign their previously held jobs in order to take on the councillor’s job.

The Chairperson said that the Committee was not the Constitutional Court and recommendations made by members should be realistic and within the ambit of the committees purview.

Mr Nesi asked who determined the frequency of municipal meetings in the various municipal districts/areas.

Mr Justice Mohlala, Senior Manager COGTA, said that municipal meeting frequency was decided by municipal members.

Mr Matila asked from where the funding for municipalities was derived.

Mr Mohlala said that the finances were determined by the provincial government via the relevant MEC.

The meeting was adjourned.



Share this page: