Share this article

2011-07-18: Understanding how the City works

JOHANNESBURG operates on a governance model that has separate legislative and executive functions.

The legislative or political function is led by the Speaker of council who presides over Council meetings normally held on a monthly basis. The Speaker is strongly supported by the Chief Whip whose responsibility is to build relationships amongst the various political parties and ensure a well oiled governing party.

There are also Section 79 Portfolio Committee chairpersons whose work is to monitor delivery of the executive and oversee the work of the different portfolios like Public Safety, Health, Economic Development and others and report to Council. Then there are Standing Committees established to deal with council matters. Unlike Section 79 committees, Standing Committees have delegated decision making powers relating specifically to the legislature and are required to submit reports to Council.

Some of the Standing Committees are; Petitions and Public Participation, Municipal Public Accounts, Audit, Programming, Ethics and Rules.

The key role of Council in the current structure is to focus on legislative, participatory and oversight roles. Its principal and most substantive role is therefore that of a lawmaker. The other key role is to facilitate political debate and discussion.

The executive or administration is led by the Executive Mayor who is broadly accountable for the strategic direction of the municipality of Johannesburg and takes political responsibility as well. The Executive Mayor is supported by a Mayoral Committee who are responsible for individual portfolios and report directly to the Executive Mayor. Some of these portfolios are; Finance, Community Development, Transport, Development Planning and Urban Management and Public Safety.

Within the Office of the Executive Mayor is the City Manager who is the chief accounting officer of the City and responsible for its municipal affairs. The City Manager is in turn supported by executive directors who are responsible for 13 individual city departments for the delivery of key public services to residents.

Further to this are 15 individual companies known as Municipal Entities that are wholly owned by the City to provide essential services, community development and transport services, investment and recreation to name a few. These are the familiar City Power, Johannesburg Water, Joburg Theatre, Joburg Tourism Company, City Parks and others.

Lastly there are seven Regional Directors who are responsible for each region tasked to co-ordinate service delivery and urban management matters. Each region with its unique character and dynamics has an office with convenient access to many city services.


"Joburg, a City where community development, personal growth and social mobility are enhanced so that challenges of poverty, vulnerability, inequality and social exclusion are fundamentally addressed".

Issued on behalf of:
Councillor Constance Bapela
Speaker of Council

Issued by:
Virgil James
City of Joburg
082 467 9415/011 407 7226