An overview of the Mayoral Committee and other committees of Council
Mayoral Committees are said to be provided for in section 60 of the Municipal Structures Act. The role of the Mayoral Committees is to assist and advise the Executive Mayor. The Executive Mayor together with the Mayoral Committee performs those powers and functions that have been designated to the Executive Mayor by the Municipal Council.
The Mayoral Committee is empowered to assist and advise the Executive Mayor, while individual members of the mayoral committee may perform specifically delegated responsibilities by the Executive Mayor. The Mayoral Committee reports to the Executive Mayor, while individual members of the Committee may interact with the Municipal Manager via the Executive Mayor unless direct interaction has been authorised by the Executive Mayor. The Mayoral Committee and its members may only interact with staff members after having been authorised by the Executive Mayor and the Municipal Manager.
Dr Pixley kaIsaka Seme members of the Mayoral Committee, Clr Thuba Dakile and Clr Busisiwe Mavuso, Clr EM Madonsela and Clr GO Ngwenya vows to leave no stone unturned in the quest of oiling the squeaking wheels of the departments seen to be stifling service delivery.
Clr Dakile is the Member of the Mayoral Committee, tasked with monitoring the municipality portfolio of Community Services, Clr Ngwenya ‘s Portfolio is the Corporate Services, Clr Madonsela’s Portfolio is Planning and Clr Mavuso looks into the portfolio of Technical and Engineering Services respectively.
Cllr GO Ngwenya’s Perspective on Corporate Services
Cllr GO Ngwenya feels that Corporate Services which incorporates human resources is vital both for the success of the municipality as well as fostering relationship with the establishment’s internal stakeholders. ‘The primary role of the human resources section is to ensure sustainable profitability of the municipality. I understand that human resources is people, and that people are the most important assets for every organisation. The result of sustainable profitability is dependent on the internal management of people and resources. On the other hand the municipality’s reputation is also an important strategic asset, along with environmental consciousness, social and political issues’, he said.
Cllr Ngwenya is convinced that societies prosper because of the involvement and constructive participation of the citizenry led by future-minded leadership. He feels that co-operation stems from the understanding that we have rights as well as responsibilities. He says those responsibilities can be affected individually by showing respect to oneself and other people as well as to the created world and environment surrounding us. ‘In an important sense, however we can do it better by working together concertedly. The vital factor in the equation apart from acceptance of responsibility for the better future by the community is leadership.
Cllr Ngwenya extended his sincere thanks to the Class of 2013, and acknowledged that although some learners were coming from challenging family backgrounds, he then encourage those learners to soldier on for the betterment of their lives amid challenging situations. Ngwenya feels that a lot still needs to be done in terms of limited job opportunities in the area. However he said, he would try to strengthen his portfolio by stepping up his visibility in different avenues in order to bridge the unemployment gap that is existing in the area. He said skills development is one area he needs to focus on.
‘Intensive Mentoring and Training for our Technical Section’, Clr Busisiwe Mavuso
Cllr Busisiwe Mavuso sees mentoring as an important element of leadership, and it forms a vital part of the management strategy within Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme Municipality. She stresses the difference between mentoring and training, noting that outside of instructive teaching, people also need guidance. ‘Mentoring is about understanding people’s challenges, where they are going and where they are coming from and helping them to get onto the right track. It is about life skills, not just business skills, she says, pointing out that most challenges within the organisation lead back to personal issues or lack of a particular life skill. Mentoring not only focuses on the symptom, but also identifies and deals with the root cause of challenges that arise. She admits that Technical Department by its nature is very complex and that she sometimes needs to adopt an autocratic approach when the situation demands it, but also enjoys the opportunities that allow participative decision making processes. ‘I am very results-orientated,’ she says. ‘I want to see results and I push hard. On the other hand, I really like to see people developing in the process’. She describes herself as an extrovert, and admits that her readiness to voice her opinions has on occasions made people around her sees her as a very hard person.
She admits that there are challenges in her section against those odds, they have managed to provide clean drinking water, electricity to scores of households as well as VIP toilets and water on farm areas. Mavuso said she has acknowledged the challenges regarding the electricity problems in Vukuzakhe and parts of Volksrust areas. ‘Technicians are currently looking at avenues of correcting the existing problem’, she says. ‘As I have mentioned earlier on that we need more skills and capacity in this section and that we encourage learners to follow the science and technology disciplines,’ she says.
‘EM Madonsela on Spatial Planning’
MMC Madonsela says, scholastically Spatial Planning involves planning in which different activities, land uses and buildings are located in relation to each other in terms of distance between them, proximity to each other and the way in which spatial considerations influence and are influenced by economic, social, political, infrastructural and environmental considerations. ‘One of the main objectives of Spatial Planning is to ensure that the utilization of land resources is planned and implemented in an organized manner in order to meet the needs of present and future generations’, she explains.
‘Spatial Planning therefore requires an integrative and comprehensive planning approach in order to rationalize the appropriate land-use activities’, she adds.
‘In 2010, President Zuma’s State of the Nation address called for faster, harder and smarter government action in respect of service delivery and the achievement of a developmental state,’ she adds.
Social Contract process, a vision titled: “Faster, Harder, Smarter: Towards a shared vision for Human Settlements was developed by a group of built environment professionals. The vision presented government with a tool to work faster (by delivering more housing opportunities within shorter time frames), harder (by going beyond the conventional in the search of alternative delivery mechanisms) and smarter (by being innovative in the use of subsidies and in the design of settlements).
Service delivery through Social Services, ‘Dakile’
The epitome of a woman, Thuba Dakile personifies contrast. On the one hand she is a devoted mother on the other a ‘die hard politician’. Yet she also heads up Community Services department, a Senior position at the municipality. And she handles both roles with absolute aplomb. There is no doubt that Thuba was the right person for the job, after all her credentials are impeccable. At the time, she didn’t truly realise how significant an achievement this was. “I tend to be very idealistic and really do believe that anything is possible until you have tried it and have decided you cannot do it. Had i listened to traditional reasoning, I certainly would not have achieved as much”. Dakile was appointed a Provincial Executive Committee member of the ANC Youth League, the position that gave her a chance to hone her skills in political administration. She brought with her this wealth of experience when joining the Municipality’s political administration, three years ago. She also brought with her a consultative, inclusive management style, whereby her focus is on tapping into the diversity of views. ‘I am constantly looking for out-of-the –box thinking. I am seeking something different, as opposed to more of the same.’ This is what she desires from the Community Services team. ‘I want to hear different views and experience alternative thinking, Dakile reveals.
She also, however believes that man cannot live without community, because it is the essence of social bond, that is the reason she is determined to turn the community services around. She says refuse must be collected, parks cleaned, cemeteries cleaned, swimming pools properly maintained, community halls cleaned while municipal traffic officials must make sure that road offenders are brought to book.
Describing herself as a self driven individual Dakile maintains that her greatest strength lies in strategic thinking. ‘I am good at choosing strong team members to work with. This process starts with building trust and confidence, and ensuring that people understand your direction. That is vital, she adds, as organisations are frequently hamstrung when individuals do not comprehend their leader’s vision. It is impossible to over communicate,’ she insists.
The role of the Ward Councillor
Ward Councillors play a central role in the communication process between the communities they represent and the council, reporting back regularly through ward meetings and assisting the community in identifying needs and priority areas of development which feeds into the municipality’s planning process.
A Ward Councillor is directly elected to represent and serve people in a specific ward. The Ward Councillor should make sure that the interests of the people in the ward are represented as properly as possible. The Ward Councillor should be in touch with the issues in the area, understand the key problems and monitor development and service delivery. In committees, caucus and council meetings, the ward councillor should act as a spokesperson for the people in the ward. The ward councillor is the direct link between the council and the voters. He or she makes sure that voters are consulted and kept informed about council decisions, development and budget plans that affect them. People can also bring their problems to the ward councillor and he/she should deal with these in an appropriate way, for example by taking up matters with council officials. The ward councillor is assisted by the ward committee.
The role of the Proportional Councillor (PR Councillor)
The proportional representation system allows parties that are relatively popular, but not strong enough to win ward seats, to take part in local government. This inclusive approach contributes to stability in communities as all parties with a decent support base are drawn into running the local councils. The PR Councillor is allocated to a ward and provides support to the ward councillor in things that relate to the ward or the ward committee.
In relation to the above, the PR Councillor can execute his/her duties in the following manner:
- The PR Councillor can handle queries and complaints in consultation with the ward councillor.
- The PR Councillor should attend ward committee meetings, constituency meetings and special meetings.
- The PR Councillor can assist with resolving disputes and making referrals
- The PR Councillor supports the ward councillor, but does not replace the ward councillor
- A Ward Councillor can also delegate the PR Councillor to Chair the meeting in the absence of the ward councillor.
Section 79 Committees
According to section 79 of the Structures Act, a municipal council may establish one or more committees necessary for the effective and efficient performance of its functions or the exercise of any of its powers. The council appoints the members of these committees, and may dissolve the committee or remove a member at any time. The council must determine the functions of a section 79 committee and may determine its procedures and delegate powers and duties to them. The functions of the committee should flow immediately from the terms of reference drawn up for the committee in terms of section 53 of the Systems Act. The council may delegate powers to the committee in terms of section 59 of the Systems Act and appoints its chairperson. Section 79 committees may co-opt advisory members who are not councillors, provided they have the authorisation of the council. Examples of committees that are often configured as section 79 committees are appeal committees and rules or disciplinary committees.
Section 80 Committees
Section 80 of the Structures Act provides for the appointment of committees to assist the executive committee or executive mayor. These committees are appointed by the council but their chairpersons are appointed by the executive committee or the executive mayor. The chairperson must be a member of the executive committee or the mayoral committee. The executive committee or executive mayor may delegate powers and duties to the committee but remains responsible for the exercise of those powers. Decisions of the section 80 committee may be varied or revoked by the executive committee or mayor subject to any rights accrued. There cannot be more section 80 committees than there are executive committee members or mayoral committee members. Clearly, a municipality of the plenary type cannot make use of section 80 committees. Section 80 committees would generally be linked to specific portfolios with names such as ‘corporate services’, ‘community services’ or ‘economic development’.
Can the executive mayor be a member of a section 80 committee? In terms of section 80(1), the council appoints the members of the section 80 committee. However, the executive committee or the executive mayor appoints the chairperson. The chairperson must be a member of the executive committee or the mayoral committee. The mayor is a member of the executive committee and can therefore be appointed by the executive committee as chairperson of a section 80 committee.
Can the executive dissolve the committee? Section 80 does not mention dissolution. The argument can be made that, since the committee is to assist the executive and since it reports to the executive, the latter may dissolve the committee. However, the text of section 80(1), which provides that it is the council that appoints the committee, suggests otherwise. Also considering that the provisions of section 79 apply to section 80 committees (unless superseded by specific rules in section 80) section 79(1)(c) is instructive here as it provides that the council dissolves a committee.
Another question is whether the executive may remove a member from the committee. Again, the section 80 is silent. Arguments similar to those above apply and it is suggested that the council has the sole prerogative of removing members from a section 80 committee. The situation is different with regard to the chairperson. The chairperson must be a member of the executive committee or the mayoral committee. Should the executive mayor dismiss a member of the mayoral committee, that councillor is then no longer eligible to be the chairperson of the relevant section 80 committee.
Clearly what is the distinction between the two sections?
According to advocate Reuben Baatjies, Acting Executive Director: Governance, IGR and International Relations: “The main difference between a section 79 committee and a section 80 committee is that the latter does not report to the council but to the executive committee or executive mayor in the manner prescribed by the executive committee or executive mayor.” “The Structures Act clearly intended to design two different kinds of committees and to limit the number of section 80 committees. “However it is important to note that section 80(1) states that the council may appoint these committee ‘in terms of section 79’. This means that section 80 cannot be read in isolation from section 79. In principle, section 80 committees are subject to the same requirements as section 79 committees, to the extent permitted by the differences outlined in section 80. In other words: the rules of section 79 apply to section 80 committees unless they have been superseded by rules made in terms of section 80. For example, section 80 committees cannot co-opt advisory members because 80 (1) speaks of committees of councillors,” he explains.
Baatjies says a municipality has substantial discretion on how to structure its committee system. “The manner in which a municipality uses the discretion can have consequences for the capacity of the council to hold the executive to account, which directly affects the quality of the governance in the municipality and ultimately the sustainability of such a municipality. The important role of committees in assisting the Council and Executive (Mayor) to perform their functions effectively should thus be clearly understood and utilised for that purpose, so as to ensure good governance in the municipality,” he concludes.