Local Government Laws Amendment Bill: finalisation

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

21 October 2002
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
22 October 2002
LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: FINALISATION

Chairperson:
Mr Y Carrim (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Local Government Laws Amendment Bill Proposed Amendments
Addendum to Local Government Laws Amendment Bill Proposed Amendments (Appendix 1)
Report by the Committee on Local Government Laws Amendment Bill (Appendix 2)
Local Government Law Amendment Bill [B61-2002] (as tabled)

SUMMARY
Few technical and structural amendments were effected to the Bill and the Long Title. The Committee report was also amended and the concept "new valuation" was replaced by "current valuation" and "some relief" by "further relief". The DP and ACDP disagreed with the retrospective application of Clause 20 of the Bill since that amounted to pre-empting the Court decision on this matter and opposed the adoption of the Bill. The IFP objected to Clause 17.

MINUTES
The Chairperson informed Members that the finalisation of the Bill was imperative.

Local Government Laws Amendment Bill: Proposed Amendments
The Committee went through the proposed amendments that the Department had prepared as the result of previous deliberations and accepted them as they are.

However, Ms G Borman (DP) noted her party's reservations on Clauses 8, 20 and 40.

Ms R Southgate (ACDP) also noted her party's reservation on Clause 20.

Addendum to Local Government Laws Amendment Bill Proposed Amendments
Dr P Bouwer: Department of Provincial and Local Government, Director of Legal Services, noted that the proposed amendments to Clause 15 and the Long Title had been erroneously omitted from the proposed amendments' document. He requested the Committee to accept them as addendum to the proposed amendments.

The Committee accepted them as part of the proposed amendments' document.

Report by the Committee on Local Government Laws Amendment Bill
The Chairperson read the Committee Report.

Ms J Manche: Department, Deputy Director General, noted that the use of the word "new" in relation to valuation in par 3 and 4 is misleading since the valuations had long been in use.

The Chairperson therefore proposed that the word "current" be used instead of "new".

Dr Bouwer proposed that a new sentence be inserted in line 16 of paragraph 4 before "If the new valuations and" (see document attached). This new sentence should grant the aggrieved ratepayer a right to appeal using proper and agreeable procedures.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee agreed with this proposal.

Ms Manche expressed concern on the wording adopted in par 4. The Cape Town Municipality does provide relief to ratepayers and its rates relief is regarded by the Department to be the best in the country.

The Chairperson noted that while the Committee acknowledged the relief granted by the Cape Town Municipality Council, it felt that the Council should do more towards its ratepayers in this regard.

Ms Manche noted that her Department does not disagree with the Committee on this matter, but however she feels that the sentence should be refine.

The Chairperson nominated Mr P Smith (IFP), Dr P Bouwer and Ms J Manche (DPLG Deputy Director General) to refine the wording of the report.

The Chairperson then read the motion of desirability.

The Committee unanimously adopted the report, was amendments.

The Chairperson went through the Bill, clause by clause, and thereafter called for its adoption.

The Bill was adopted.

However, the ACDP, per Ms Southgate, noted its objection for the adoption of the Bill, while the DP, per Ms Borman, noted its reservation on the Bill as the whole. The IFP only noted its reservation on Clause 17, but voted for the adoption of the Bill.

The Chairperson was extremely unhappy about this and expressed his anger. He required Members to be transparent and open during deliberations so that consensus could be fairly reached. He was disappointed when Members intentionally concealed their true positions during deliberations. They knew they disagreed but only showed that at the end of the process.

Mr P Uys (NNP) noted that all Members have the right to reserve their positions for the House and there is nothing the Committee can do to change that.

The Chairperson acknowledged this, but held that the spirit of the Committee is to operate with openness and to reach its decisions on a fair basis. It becomes a different matter when Members deliberately conceal their positions during deliberations but to reveal them at the end of the process.

Both the DP and ACDP maintained that their parties disagree with the retrospective application of Clause 20 of the Bill since that amount to pre-empting the Court decision on this matter.

The Chairperson noted what the DP and ACDP said. He then requested other Members to comment on the issue.

Mr B Solo (ANC) noted that the Chairperson have been very fair to all Members and ensured a maximum participation in the deliberations. He said it was frustrating to extensively deliberate on issues with the view of reaching consensus, but to find disagreement on every issue at the end.

Mr B Komphela (ANC) noted that while he acknowledged and respected every party's right to reserve its position on any issue, it becomes much better if it is raised at the early stages of the deliberations.

Mr B Nobunga (ANC) noted that, notwithstanding the Chairperson's fairness in the deliberations, at times Members are bound to disagree since they come from different parties. If some parties decide to disagree or reserve their positions then the Committee should accept that and move on.

The Chairperson noted that unlike other Committee Chairpersons he sought to ensure that there is maximum participation from all parties and even from non-members. He bent Parliament's rules with the intention of ensuring maximum participation which would result in a unanimous decision of the Committee. Members should keep in mind that although the Committee may agree on the retrospective application of Clause 20, but the Court might disagree with that and rule otherwise.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
Addendum to proposed amendments

CLAUSE 14

1. On page 8, from line 33, to omit subsection (3) and to substitute:
(3) If the mayor is absent or not available and the municipality does not have a

deputy mayor, or the deputy mayor is also absent or not available -

(a) the member of the executive committee designated thereto in writing by the mayor acts as mayor; or

(b) a councillor elected by the members of the executive committee from amongst themselves acts as mayor if the mayor has not designated a member thereto or if the designated member is absent or not available.".

CLAUSE 15

1. On page 8, from line 46, to omit subsection (7), and to substitute:

'(7) If the executive mayor is absent or not available and the municipality does not have a deputy executive mayor, or the deputy executive mayor is also absent or not available, the council must designate a councillor to act as executive mayor.

LONG TITLE

1. On page 2, in the fifth line, after "technical corrections;" to insert the following:

to further regulate the functions and the work programme of the Board;

2. On page 2, from the eleventh line, to omit "where a particular municipality does not have a deputy mayor or a deputy executive mayor".

3. On page 2, in the sixteenth line, after "certain power", to insert the following:

to validate the Property Valuation Ordinance, 1993 (Cape), and provide for other technical arrangements connected thereto;


Appendix 2:
Report by the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill
[B61-2002]

Having considered the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill the Portfolio Committee reports further as follows:

1. The Portfolio Committee feels that it is unacceptable that the Bill should have been introduced to Parliament so late and that the Committee should have had a limited time in which to process it. However, as the Bill dealt mainly with minor technical amendments, the Portfolio Committee was able to apply its usual rigour to the Bill, particularly in respect of the substantive clauses, and has been able to complete the processing of the Bill within the timeframes decided upon. Despite this, it would have preferred to receive the Bill earlier, and urges the Ministry and Department of Provincial and Local Government to avoid a recurrence of this.

2. The Committee acknowledges the need to extend the transitional period relating to the MECs' authorizations of the division of powers and functions between District and Local municipalities from 5 December 2002 to 30 June 2003. The Committee feels that it is important that consideration be given in the division of powers and functions between District and Local municipalities to:

· The alignment of the publication of the notices of the Minister's authorization of the four "national" powers and functions and the MECs' publication of the notices of the adjustments of the remaining powers and functions. The publication of these notices takes place by no later than the end of January 2003 in order to give municipalities adequate time to prepare and to budget accordingly.

· The alignment, over time, of the Minister's authorizations of powers and functions and the MECs' adjustments of
the powers and functions.
· The Minister's authorizations and the MECs' adjustments be reviewed, over time, to ensure that the important role allocated to District municipalities in legislation and policy is fulfilled.

3. The Committee was careful to ensure that the clauses seeking to validate the Cape Valuation Ordinance are of a technical nature. They are necessary to ensure that the new valuations of municipalities in Western, Northern and Eastern Cape are legally valid.

4. Related to the issue of validating the Cape Valuation Ordinance is the dispute between the Cape Town metro municipality and the Rates Action Group and the Robertsons. While it is the right of the parties to the dispute to pursue legal action, the Committee feels that all the parties in the dispute should seek to resolve their differences through discussion and negotiations. It is regrettable that a section of the ratepayers is exploiting an unfortunate technical loop-hole as the basis for their legal action against the Cape Town municipality to address their concerns over the new equitable valuations and rates policy of Cape Town. The Committee feels these rate payers' concerns with the new equitable valuations and the rates policy might be more usefully served by engaging with the municipality on the substance of the rates policy. If the new valuations and rates policy of the Cape Town municipality unduly disadvantages any group of ratepayers, the municipality needs to explore whether there is anything that it can do to provide some relief to these ratepayers.

5. In processing the clause dealing with the remuneration of councillors, the Committee noted that municipalities are providing allowances and benefits to councillors in contravention of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act- 1998. Many of these municipalities purport to provide these in terms of the provisions in provincial ordinances But these provincial ordinances do not have legal effect since the enactment of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act. The Committee recognizes that councillors' salaries and allowances need to be adequate, but the dissatisfaction of municipalities around this should be negotiated through the appropriate channels. The present practice of transgressing the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act is unacceptable, and the Committee urges that:

· The Ministry and Department of Provincial and Local Government take steps to stop this practice.

· The MECs for local government act more decisively against these transgressions.

· The Ministry and Department of Provincial and Local Government seek to repeal the relevant provisions of the provincial ordinances as soon as possible.

· The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee sends a copy of this part of the report to the Ministry and Department of Provincial and Local Government and the MECs for Local Government and requests them to act expeditiously.

6. The Committee feels that the negotiations with the relevant stakeholders on the Property Rates Bill should be completed reasonably soon and that the bill should be introduced to Parliament next year.

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