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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 August 2004
MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms P Benghu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Municipal Demarcation Board 2004/5 Programme
The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) presented their ward demarcation programme for 2004/5. Ward demarcation in preparation for the 2005 local elections was the major focus. Members were concerned that many of the problems and challenges had not changed since the budget hearings. A variety of explanations for the delays were offered, including budgetary shortfalls and the failure of certain provinces to publish councillor numbers. The Board requested the Committee's help to pressurise the problematic provinces into publishing these numbers.
A delegation from SALGA apologised for the absence of its CEO and asked that its presentation be postponed. The Chairperson expressed concern at SALGA's apparently disrespectful attitude towards Parliament.
Municipal Demarcation Board briefing
Mr Robert Willemse (MDB Head of Research and Implementation) said the 3 754 wards delimited for the 2000 local elections would be reviewed due to migration of voters, registration of additional voters, and because of a formula change which stipulated that municipalities with less than 7 councillors would not have wards.
Ward delimitation would be achieved in four phases.
Phase 1 (October 2003 - June 2004) had included planning with the Independent Electoral Commision (IEC), the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and the Provinces. The IEC divided the voter's role into municipal segments. The Minister published the formula for ward delimitation on April 22. Provincial MECs responsible for local government determined the number of councillors per municipality. MECs were permitted to deviate from the Ministerial formula by 10%. Draft ward boundaries had been published for 7 of the 9 provinces. KZN and Limpopo provinces had not yet provided councillor numbers. Boundaries for outstanding provinces would hopefully be published in August 2004.
Phase 2 (June 2004 - December 2004) would include consultation with each district area. The input would be accommodated in a second draft of ward boundaries.
Phase 3 (January - April 2005) comprising the third draft of ward boundaries would be gazetted and objections would be accommodated in a fourth draft which would be handed to the IEC for electoral processes in Phase 4 (April 2005 - March 2006).
Planning had been substantially delayed by problems caused primarily by the absence of a formula for councillor numbers during the last national and provincial elections.
Financial shortfalls had caused further problems. The R17 million allocated to the board for 2004/5 had proved inadequate. The matter had been discussed with the Department and the Ad Hoc Portfolio Committee. Assistance had been requested. Two million Norwegian Krone had been provided by the Norwegian Embassy. The board needed an additional R5, 5million to cover the costs of fulfilling its mandate. Failure to overcome budgetary shortfalls would compromise the demarcation process. The board would be dependent on donor funding to fulfil its legislative mandate and this could result in legal challenges.
A delegation from the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) apologised for the absence of its CEO and asked that the presentation be postponed. The Chairperson expressed concern at SALGA's apparently disrespectful attitude towards Parliament.
Mr P Smith (IFP) was concerned that the problems raised were identical to those raised during the budget hearings. The Committee had then expressed alarm that the determination of a formula had not been completed before the previous elections. It was unacceptable that the KZN and Limpopo provinces had failed to fulfil their obligations despite the publication of a formula.
Mr H Monare (MDB) said that the Minister published the formula for councillor numbers after the deadline set for MECs to issue the number of councillors. Furthermore, the MEC for KZN had been ill. The board hoped it would have all outstanding numbers by the end of August.
Mr Smith said the issue of financial shortfalls had been tabled during the budget reviews. He wanted to know why financial shortfalls were still a problem.
Mr Monare said the Ad Hoc Committee had supported the Board's financial concerns. The board had approached the Department with the problem and a report had been submitted to Treasury. The issue had been raised again in the presentation because it remained unresolved.
Mr W Doman (DA) asked why it was problematic to change poorly demarcated Voter Districts.
Mr Monare said the IEC thought it would be more responsible to wait for a re-registration of voters before voter districts are split.
Mr M Diko (UDM) asked what measures the MDB could take if the outstanding provinces continued to miss deadlines.
Mr Monare said the MDB had no powers to compel provinces to publish councillor numbers.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) asked what was being done to provide support to ailing municipalities.
Mr Monare said there was no specific allocation of responsibilities amongst local and provincial district authorities. It was difficult for the board to evaluate the adequacy of the many varying mechanisms employed within the provinces to help develop problematic municipalities. The board could simply identify disparities between the support mechanisms that the provinces claimed to have implemented and the performance of the municipalities in question.
The meeting was adjourned.
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