Volume 12, Issue 4, December 2010

Consequences of Failing to Adopt a Budget by 30 June.

Political disagreements in a municipal council sometimes lead to stalemates on important matters such as the adoption of a municipal budget. Failure to adopt a budget by 30 June triggers the question: must the provincial government intervene, and, if so, how? This matter was the subject of a recent ruling of the Western Cape High Court. In this case, the High Court for the first time addressed the mandatory provisions of section 139(4) of the Constitution.

The Future of Local Government: According To The ANC.

The ANC’s National General Council (NGC) is a forum at which the organisation’s progress and challenges are reviewed between national conferences. It is the highest body of the ANC, after the national congress, and convenes every five years. The third NGC, which sought to review the ANC’s performance against policies adopted by the Polokwane conference, was held in Durban in September. Its important outcome for the local governance sector is that there will soon be a summit on local government.

The Withholding of Rates and Taxes in Five Municipalities.

The Community Law Centre, in partnership with the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and SALGA, recently completed a research project on the phenomenon of rates withholding in five South African municipalities. ‘Rates withholding’ is the practice by ratepayers of withholding their property rates and, in some cases, fees for municipal services because they believe that municipalities are not delivering. We argue that this practice, though less visible than service delivery protests, is equally destructive.

Leadership Matters: Professionalising Political Leadership.

Moves are afoot to professionalise the administrative arm of local government. First, the National Treasury has prescribed a competency framework for municipal officials at senior and middle management levels. All senior and middle managers must have acquired the prescribed competencies by 1 January 2013, after which no candidate without the requisite competencies can be appointed. These regulations also make it necessary for current employees to attain these competencies by 31 December 2012.

Review of the Local Government Fiscal Framework.

In 2009, SALGA recommended to the Local Government Budget Forum that there should be a review of many aspects of fiscal policies in relation to municipal finances. This year SALGA proposed a comprehensive review of the local government fiscal framework (LGFF). While there have been some ad hoc policy changes over the past few years, many remain incomplete or unattended to. In SALGA’s view, the review of the LGFF should address the fundamental structural challenges, rather than introducing minor ad hoc adjustments, if it is to improve operational efficiency in the short and long term.

Trends in Community Protest: From 2007 to 2010.

The research was undertaken by Hirsh Jain, a Harvard Law School visiting fellow at the Community Law Centre. This article summarises Jain’s findings relating to the frequency of protests, the incidence of violent protests, the impact of the 2008/09 economic recession, the geographical spread of protests per province, and the types of concerns that fuel protests.

The Tender Process and Blacklisted Suppliers.

The courts view the blacklisting of suppliers by the National Treasury in a very serious light and confirm that organs of state are allowed to cancel contracts concluded with suppliers who, when tendering for a contract, knowingly and wrongfully fail to disclose their inclusion on the National Treasury’s database as companies or persons prohibited from doing business with the public sector.

The Future of Local Government in Zimbabwe: A Policy Dialogue.

On 30 September 2010, the Community Law Centre launched a book entitled The future of local government in Zimbabwe: A policy dialogue in Harare, Zimbabwe.The launch was attended by the Deputy Minister for Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Sesel Zvidzai, MP; the mayor of Harare, Muchadeyi Masunda; and other dignitaries. Zemelak Ayele summarises the book’s content.