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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 October 2007
LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAWS AMENDMENT BILL: RESPONSE TO PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Local Government Laws Amendment Bill [B28-2007]
Proposed Amendments to Local Government Laws Amendment Bill
Audio recording of meeting
The Committee deliberated on concerns raised in the public submissions on the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill. Concerns were raised about which municipality types should have ward committees, financial support to ward committees, participation of municipal staff members as candidates in elections, consultation between the Minister of Provincial and Local Government and the Minister of Public Service and Administration about municipal staff, the process for dealing with maladministration and corruption in a municipality, and municipality exemption from Chapter 8 and 8A provisions of the Municipal Systems Act. The Committee in principle agreed that the cost of support to ward committees should form part of the budget of municipalities. The clause dealing with which municipalities have ward committees was dropped until reconsideration by the National Council of Provinces. Some of the other concerns were flagged by the Committee in anticipation of proposals by the Department.
The intention was to finalise the Bill that day with the Department and the State Law Advisers drafting proposed amendments during the meeting. However due to time constraints, finalisation was postponed.
The Department delegation comprised of Ms Veronica Mafolo (Senior Manager: Equitable Share & Physical Transfers), Mr Myron Peters (Executive Manager: Local Governmental Institutions & Administrative Systems), Mr Mzilikazi Manyike (Chief Director: Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations) and Ms V Zini (Legal Services). Mr M Ncolo represented the Office of the State Law Advisor.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee deliberate on the Bill clause by clause highlighting matters of concern. The Department was asked to give input on those clauses it agreed needed amending in the light of the submissions heard at the public hearings the previous day.
Clause 6 dealing with which municipalities have ward committees
Mr Peters stated that constitutional issues had been raised in the submissions. He felt that the State Law Advisors needed more time to consider this clause. Mr Peters suggested that the clause be dropped.
The Chair agreed that the clause should be withdrawn for now. He said that by the time the Bill reached the National Council of Provinces, the State Law Advisors should have a stance on the clause.
Clause 7 dealing with financial support of ward committees
Mr Tsenoli noted that in the submissions received it had been suggested that subsection 5 have a (d) added to it in order to make provision for support to ward committees. This framework of support would include support of a financial nature.
Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) suggested that the provisions in (a) and (c) in Section 73(5) be interchanged so that the establishment of a budget for ward committees should be stated first.
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) supported the suggestion.
Mr W Doman (DA) said that there was no need for an additional (5)(d) as was suggested in the submissions. The clause should remain as it was and that municipal councils should arrange their own matters.
Mr Mashudulu felt that ward committees needed support as many in disadvantaged areas were facing challenges. He urged the Committee to engage further on the issue.
Mr Doman strongly felt that the issue of support to ward committees should be the responsibility of municipalities.
Mr Peters stated that it was important that municipalities should internalize the cost of giving support to ward committees. He felt that the cost of ward committee support should form part of the budget of municipalities.
Mr Manyike suggested that the Clause be flagged as the State Law Advisor, Mr Ncolo, was not present at that moment to provide guidance on the issue. Mr Ncolo and Ms Zini had stepped out of the meeting for a while to finalise some last-minute drafting on some of the issues that had been raised in the submissions.
Mr B Solo (ANC) agreed that the issue of support to ward committees be flagged as it was of critical importance. He felt that the burden of support to ward committees should not solely rest with municipalities.
Mr Holomisa agreed with Mr Solo. He noted that ward committees do not only deal with local government matters but with matters pertaining to other spheres of government as well.
The Chair stated that the Committee in principle agreed that the cost of support to ward committees should form part of the budget of municipalities.
Mr Doman said that if municipalities were prescribed to make provision for financial support to ward committees in their budgets, why could support to other programmes not also be prescribed. He felt that consistency was needed.
Mr Tsenoli stressed that there should be an explicit expression that the funding for the support to ward committees should come from the budgets of municipalities.
Mr M Likotsi (PAC) said that out-of-pocket expenses as referred to in Clause 7(5) were not the only expenses incurred by ward committees.
The Chair said that the Committee was aware that there was other support that ward committees needed. He suggested that the matter be flagged and that the Committee move on.
In reply to Mr Doman asking if the change of reference from Section 32 to that of Section 59 in the clause was now indeed the correct one, Mr Peters agreed to check on its correctness.
Clause 14 dealing with participation of municipal staff as candidates in elections
The Chair said that the unions SAMWU and IMATU had felt that the provisions of this clause were unfair towards staff members of municipalities.
Mr Peters noted that there were two interests to consider. The first being the interests of the staff member and the second being the interests of the public. He explained that if a staff member participated in an election he was still a member of the municipality and would have access to information that might be advantageous in canvassing votes. Another candidate would thus be disadvantaged. Mr Peters also said that March was a critical time of year for municipalities and that if a senior official took time off for the elections it would impact upon performance of duties. Furthermore, from a governance point of view, if many senior officials in municipalities took time off for electioneering how would municipalities be able to deliver on service delivery.
Ms Mafolo suggested that the issue be flagged as it had an impact on the right of individuals to participate in elections as contained in the Bill of Rights.
The Committee agreed.
Clause 15 dealing with consultation with Public Service Minister on municipal staffing
Ms Zini stated that the clause provided for consultation between the Minister of Provincial and Local Government and the Minister of Public Service and Administration about municipal staff. The intention of the clause was not to inculcate a single public service as was perceived by the submissions that had been received.
The Chair said that a single public service was about human resources. In the original Act, provision had been made for consultation with bargaining councils. He said that consultation between ministers could not be stopped.
Mr Mashudulu asked what the need was for the amendments to be made.
Mr Peters explained that when the Bill had been developed, ministers wanted to be consulted by the Minister of Provincial and Local Government. He also noted that in this clause, the Department had collapsed the issuing of regulations and the making of guidelines.
Clause 18 on the process for dealing with maladministration in a municipality
The Chair stated that the Committee would flag this clause.
Clause 20 dealing with municipality exemption from provisions
Ms Zini noted that the intention of the clause was to exempt municipalities who were not able to comply with the provisions of Section 78.
The Chair was concerned about the clause. Mr Doman shared the Chair’s concerns. He said that the clause was giving the Minister the power to exempt municipalities from complying with legislation that Parliament had passed.
Mr Manyike stated that there were three ministers involved in the exemption process as it was regarded as a serious issue. The decision to exempt would not be taken lightly.
Mr Solo explained that the clause was an enabling clause.
The Chair suggested that the Committee flag the clause.
After the Committee had gone through the entire bill clause by clause, the Chair suggested that the Department and the State Law Advisor consider the clauses that had been flagged and come up with suggestions and amendments where needed.
The Chair said that the intention had been to finalise the Bill and time had been set aside during the meeting for the drafting to take place and for the proposed amendments to be finalised and printed. However due to time constraints, and until the proposed amendments were ready for consideration, further deliberation and finalisation would be postponed to a later date.
The meeting was adjourned.
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