Municipal Structures Bill: discussion

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

20 September 1998
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Meeting report

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 September 1998
MUNICIPAL STRUCTURES BILL : DISCUSSION

Documents handed out:

Proposed amendments on Municipal Structures Bill [B68 –98]

SUMMARY
The Committee reviewed clauses 70 through 79 of the Municipal Structures Bill. The committee decided to flag clauses 70 and 76, the most contentious clauses, but approved the remaining clauses with relatively minor amendments.

DETAILED MINUTES
The Committee first discussed clause 70. The discussion centered around subsection (c) of clause 70. According to subsection (c), " a ward committee has such duties and powers as the metro or local council may assign to it in terms of section 28". An ANC MP suggested replacing "assign" with "delegate" for the sake of consistency throughout the Bill. Chairperson Carrim also stated that the committee should maintain consistency throughout the Bill. An MP from the opposition stated that the term "delegate" was inappropriate because delegate suggested that the ward committee had more power than the Committee intended.

Professor Du Toit offered an explanation of the differences between delegate and assign. According to Professor Du Toit, delegate means to turn over all duties to someone, while assign means to allocate a specific duty to someone. A person or entity with an assignment has no discretion to deviate from the assignment.

The legal advisors from the Department of Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development could not agree on whether to use assign or delegate in the clause 70. Chairperson Carrim asked the Department to maintain a consistent position. Apparently, at a prior meeting, the Department, maintained that it wanted to use the word assign.

The Committee finally agreed on Professor Du Toit’s definition of delegate.

The next issue raised by the Committee was how much power should the ward committees have. Ms M Verwoerd (ANC) suggested that the ward committees should only have minor duties and functions. Chairperson Carrim suggested that the ward committees should not be political dummies but have some limited autonomy. Because clause 70 raised so many different concerns, the Committee decided to flag it for further discussion. The Committee approved clauses 71-75 with very little debate. With regards to clause 75, the committee decided to change subsection 2(b) because it generated a debate similar to the debate surrounding clause 70.

The Committee decided to flag clause 76 because it seemed very unclear. This sentiment was reflected by ANC MPs, Ms Chochan-Kota and Professor Du Toit. Chairperson Carrim also suggested that clause 76 was unclear to him. According to clause 76, a municipal council may appoint subcommitttees to assist the executive committee. Professor Du Toit and Chairperson Carrim wondered why the executive committee cannot appoint its own subcommittee rather than having the municipal council appoint it. Professor Du Toit, in particular, was concerned about a potential schism between the subcommittee, which was appointed by the municipal council, and the executive committee. This schism would occur because the source of the subcommittee’s power would come from the municipal council not the executive committee.

The Committee agreed to change the title of part 7. The Committee changed it from "Chief Officer" to "Chief Municipal Officer".

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