A bill designed to address the problems experienced in the implementation of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act has been passed by the national assembly and sent to the national council of provinces for concurrence.
The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill was drawn up by the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department and tabled in June 2018.
In particular, the proposed legislation seeks to address problems around the administration and the 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 gets 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 of local council is unable to establish a ward committee.
The select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs will process the bill.