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All set for Joburg’s ward committee elections Print E-mail
10 January 2017
vote
 

Johannesburg residents are going back to the polls in less than three weeks – six months after casting their ballots in the 3 August 2016 local government elections.

This time the voters will elect ward committee members in all the City of Johannesburg’s 135 wards.

The ward committee elections, to be conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), will take place across the city over three consecutive Saturdays –January 28, February 4 and February 11.

The elections, established in terms of the Local Government Act of 1998, follow a citywide educational campaign held towards the end of 2016. Venues for the elections will be announced shortly. 

Ward committees play an important role in municipal affairs in that they assist democratically elected public representatives to carry out their mandate.

Patrick Nhlapo, the City’s Deputy Director of Community Participation, said preparations for the elections had already started.

“Our process of educating citizens about the ward committee elections through workshops went quite well. We concluded the workshops on November 13 last year,” Nhlapo said.

“During the campaign, Johannesburg citizens showed interest in the elections. Even our local councillors requested us to extend the workshops to certain areas in order to reach more communities.

“After the workshops, we were inundated with calls from people requesting nomination forms. We had only printed 10 000 forms in the beginning. We had to go back to print 10 000 more. This emanated from the adverts we ran with a number of media organisations,” Nhlapo said.

He said in many areas – such as Orange Farm, Ivory Park and Soweto – communities came in large numbers to attend the workshops.

“In other parts of the city, particularly the former white areas, the numbers showed a slight decline. We strategised and started distributing leaflets in those areas. It was simply because certain communities prefer other methods of public participation to attending workshops,” he said.

More than 3 800 candidates have been registered. Ballot papers will be printed as soon as the candidates’ details have been verified and the papers signed off.

The ward committee elections were announced in October last year by Council Speaker Cllr Vasco da Gama, who called on all residents who had time to serve their community to avail themselves to be elected by their sectors to any portfolio of their interest. 

The sectors are housing, transport, public safety, finance and economic development, environment and infrastructure services (City Power, Johannesburg Water, and Pikitup), community development 1 (sports, culture and youth), community development 2 (women, faith-based groups, community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations), health, development planning and urban management.

Elected ward committee members will be entitled to a R1 000 monthly stipend and a cellphone allowance.

Although ward committees have no legal persona, they serve as advisory committees in support of ward councillors.

Under the leadership of ward councillors, they facilitate meaningful participation in council affairs and in the resolution of residents’ problems, over and above other stakeholder engagements.

“Ward committees are there to encourage residents to participate actively in the affairs of local government and ensure that their issues are brought to the attention of the local municipality,” Nhlapo said.

 

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