The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill has been amended by the national council of provinces (NCOP) and returned to the national assembly (NA) for concurrence.
The NA passed the bill and sent it to the NCOP for concurrence in February 2019.
The bill is designed to address the problems experienced in the implementation of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act.
The bill was drawn up by the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department and tabled in June 2018.
It was revived by the NCOP in October 2019.
In particular, the proposed legislation seeks to address problems around the administration and management of municipal elections.
The bill also seeks to promote the effective and efficient implementation of the act and strengthen oversight and governance in municipalities.
The bill aims to amend the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act so as to:
• insert, delete and amend certain definitions;
• remove all references to district management areas;
• remove all references to plenary executive system as a type of municipality;
• provide for a minimum of 10 councillors per municipality;
• amend the deviation threshold;
• provide for the prohibition of a councillor who was found guilty of a breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors for a period of two years;
• clarify the date of assumption of office by a councillor;
• allow for extension on the declaration of the result of an election;
• require the municipal manager to inform the MEC for local government in the province in addition to the Electoral Commission of ward vacancies;
• provide that the MEC call and set the date for by-elections;
• clarify who can inform the municipal manager of a specific vacancy;
• allow the MEC to designate a person to call and chair a meeting of the municipal council when the speaker, acting speaker or municipal manager refuses to call the meeting;
• provide for additional functions of the speaker;
• provide for a whip of municipal council;
• clarify the formula for the composition of an executive committee;
• provide for the establishment of a Municipal Public Accounts Committee;
• provide for the resolution of a situation where excessive seats may arise from the seat calculation in local municipalities;
• amend the timeframe for the municipal manager to inform the chief electoral officer of vacancies;
• allow for the MEC to inform the chief electoral officer of vacancies if the municipal manager fails to do so;
• clarify the supplementation of party lists for local municipalities;
• provide for the resolution of multiple seats which may arise where a candidate qualifies to be elected to more than one seat;
• clarify the supplementation of party lists for district municipalities;
• provide for a Code of Conduct for Councillors; and
• provide for matters connected therewith
During its deliberations, the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs introduced amendments to the bill.
A new definition on municipal public accounts committee was inserted. It means a committee established in terms of section 79A.
Clause 8 was amended by the insertion of paragraph c referring to 20% if the geographical size of the local municipality is greater than 20 000 square kilometres and if less than 35 councillors have been determined for the municipality in terms of the formula.
Clause 12 got a new subsection 6 outlining when the MEC for local government may not call a by-election.
A new clause on public notice of meetings of municipal councils was also inserted.
Clause 23 was amended by the inclusion of a new 1A outlining the process to be followed if a metropolitan or local council is unable to establish a ward committee.
Proposed amendments by the select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water and sanitation and human settlements include the insertion of section 21A stipulating that the code of conduct applies to every member of a municipal council and a new clause 32 on transitional arrangements stipulating that “a municipality with a plenary executive system immediately before the commencement of this Act, will continue to exist as a municipality with a plenary executive system until the date of the first local government election after commencement of this Act.’’
The select committee also introduced amendments to the Customary Initiation Bill and returned it to the NA for concurrence.
The bill was tabled in parliament in April 2018 and the NA passed it and sent it to the NCOP for concurrence at the end of 2018.
The NCOP revived the bill in October 2019.
The bill seeks to:
• provide for the effective regulation of customary initiation practices;
• provide for the establishment of a National Initiation Oversight Committee and Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committees and their functions;
• provide for the responsibilities, roles and functions of the various role-players involved in initiation practices as such or in the governance aspects thereof;
• provide for the effective regulation of initiation schools;
• to provide for regulatory powers of the Minister and Premiers;
• provide for the monitoring of the implementation of this Act;
• provide for provincial peculiarities; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.
According to the bill’s memorandum, it seeks to protect, promote and regulate initiation by providing acceptable norms and standards, structures at national and provincial level to ensure that initiation takes place in a controlled and safe environment and clarity on the various responsibilities, roles and functions of the key role-players in customary initiation.
The portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs will consider the proposed amendments to both bills.