Volume 8, Issue 1, March 2006.

Challenges for the New Councils

The election on 5 December 2000 was the formal beginning of the new local government dispensation, Local government was established as the primary site for service delivery and development in the country. This article outlines some of the challenges facing the new councils.

State of the Municipalities: More Money, More Skills

In his 2006 State of the Nation Address on 3 February , President Thabo Mbeki focused on the troubles and goals of local government. While he noted that three quarters of South Africans approve of the government's service delivery efforts, only 45% believe that local government is performing well. The President then set out his plan to rescue local government.

Making Headlines: Dismissal of Councillors ini Gauteng

More than 100 municipal councillors and officials have been dismissed or forced to resign over the past five years in Gauteng's municipalities following investigations into fraud, corruption and absenteeism. The most common offences discovered by the office of the Auditor General and its investigative units were maladministration, fraud and corruption.

Agenda For The First Council Meeting.

The first meeting of the newly elected councils must take place at the seat of the municipality within 14 days of the council being declared elected. If it is a district council, the meeting must be held within 14 days of the appointment of all members who are to be appointed by local councils. At the first meeting, a number of issues must be decided and key office bearers must be elected.

Rooting Out Corruption: Code of Conduct and Disclosures of Financial Interests.

Councillors are elected to represent local communities on municipal councils, to ensure that municipalities are accountable to their communities. In fulfilling this mandate, councillors must abide by the Code of Conduct as set out in Schedule 5 of the Municipal Structures Act, which requires them, among other things, to disclose their financial interests and refrain from using their positions as councillors for personal gain.

Councillors Can Have Their Say: Immunity in Council.

For a democracy to be vibrant, councillors must have the freedom to speak their minds in council. This freedom is protected by the Constitution and the Municipal Structures Act, which grants councillors immunity against civil and criminal liability for anything they say in council.

End of Cross-Boundary Municipalities.

Prior to the December 5 elections, the Constitution was amended and other legislation was enacted, to provide for the demarcation and establishment of cross-boundary municipalities, i.e. municipalities straddling provincial boundaries. Sixteen cross-boundary municipalities were established affecting five provinces in South Africa. The creation of such municipalities was necessary to bring interdependent people and economies on different sides of a provincial boundary together in one municipality.

From the Courts: Sewerage Charges Based on Property Value and Usage

At the end of 2005, the Supreme Court of Appeal made a ruling on the question of whether sewerage charges should be based on the value of the property or on the amount of water used. The matter had been brought by the Rates Action Group against a High Court judgment, which ruled that the City of Cape Town was permitted to impose property rates for services in addition to general property rates, in conjunction with a tariff based on water usage.