Debate on the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill by Hon Enock Mthethwa in the National Assembly

21 February

Apartheid has left its imprint on South Africa's human settlements and municipal institutions. Transformation requires an understanding of the historical role of local government in creating and perpetuating local separation and inequity, and the impact of apartheid on municipal institutions. Equally important is the history of resistance to apartheid at the local level, and struggles against apartheid local government.

The advent in 1994 of democracy in South Africa changed the regulatory framework of local government. South African citizens were freed from the shackles of an oppressive regime and experienced democratic rule. Freedom from Apartheid came with promises of a better life for all and the realisation of constitutionally protected human rights. The preamble to the Constitution lays the foundation for an open and democratic society with a Bill of Rights, recognising the injustices of the past and aiming to improve the quality of life of all citizens. The majority of the electorate supported a constitutional mandate, which set the foundation for democracy and bestowed a positive obligation on all spheres of government to ensure the enforcement of the Bill of Rights, as well as an obligation to ensure that the majority of people experience a better life.

It is against this backdrop that Transition Act, 1993, the new Constitution envisaged a complete transformation of the local government system. In terms of the new Constitution, local government is a sphere of government in its own right and no longer a function of national or provincial government. Local government has also been given a distinctive status and role in building democracy and promoting socio-economic development.

Proposed amendments to the MSA, promotes certainty on some matters and to strengthen oversight and governance in municipalities.

In the main the Bill speaks to two fundamental areas;

  • Electoral matters
  • It alludes to vacancies
  • Seat allocation formula
  • Party lists and timeframes thereof
  • Governance matters
  • Abolishment of plenary type
  • Quorum and decision
  • Use of size of municipalities to deviate when determining number of Councillors
  • Functions of Speakers, Office of the Whip and
  • MPAC's

We have noted the challenges experienced by plenary-type municipalities include limiting of executive authority to the full council, and it is unable to delegate its executive responsibilities to any individual Cllr or any of its committees. In strengthening oversight and governance in municipalities and ensuring service delivery for all. The Municipal Structures Amendment Bill seeks to do away with the plenary-type of municipality. This will contribute to municipal council to improve oversight over the administration and the executive by implementing critical checks and balances to ensure that the municipality implement the constitutional mandate as accountability is one of the tenets of a democracy. Therefore, improving oversight in local government to hold the municipal executive and the administration accountable should be the prerequisite to implement the constitutional mandate of local government.

In conclusion the ANC is convinced that proposed amendments provide for solutions and clarity which will restore the confidence of the majority of our people in our municipalities, as the primary delivery machinery of the developmental state at a local level.It is for this reason that on the 08 May we must go all out in our numbers and vote for the ANC. (khethani abathembekile)

The ANC supports the Bill.

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