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​City starts countdown to ward committee polls

As preparations for ward committee elections get under way, the City of Johannesburg is rolling out a series of civic education workshops to bring voters up to speed with the process and how the ward committee system works.

Council Speaker Cllr Vasco da Gama announced on October 13 that ward committee elections would be held in all Johannesburg’s 135 wards over two weeks – from 28 January 2017 to 11 February 2017 – six months after the August 3 2016 local government elections.

To ensure fairness and transparency, the polls will be supervised by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Nominations open on 1 November 2016 and close on 25 November 2016.

The City staged civic education workshop in three in Region G centres – Orange Farm, Eldorado Park and Poortje – this week. The workshops followed two held in Ennerdale and Lenasia last week. They focused on how ward committees function and how residents could participate in them or make themselves available for election.

“We’re here to help you with the process of nominating your preferred candidates for the upcoming ward committee elections,” Brenda Andrews, a facilitator from the Office of the Speaker, told Eldorado Park residents at Don Mateman Hall on Tuesday October 25.

“We know that many of you are committed members of this community who want to move it forward by assisting the councillors.”

She urged residents to nominate community members who would strive to serve in their best interests.

“Nominate people with integrity, without fear, favour or prejudice. Put your trust in people who will not use the position for private gain but make decisions based on the mandate received from their ward,” Andrews said.

Reginald Twala, a ward administrator in the Naturena-Freedom Park-Kliptown-Eldorado Park area, said: “For members of the community to become ward committee members, they must first be nominated, verified and be approved if they meet all the requirements. Following that will be the elections.”

Twala said candidates would be elected democratically and not by political bodies. “A ward committee is not a political structure. It’s also not the first step to take when a person wishes to become a ward councillor.

“Ward committees are platforms through which the City will improve communities in 10 sectors. We need the inputs of communities to improve service delivery in the City. If you think the City of Johannesburg needs to make a few adjustment in a particular sector, then, through your ward committee, you will have the ability to do so,” Twala added.

Nominees must be registered voters of the ward and be motivated to work on the ward committee. No municipal employee may be elected as a ward committee member. If a nominee is indebted to the municipality, or is in arrears for service accounts, they must make the necessary arrangements to meet their obligations.

Nominees may not be elected if convicted of an offence and sent to prison without the option of a fine for a period of not less than 12 months. They may also not be elected if declared of unsound mind by court. Submissions for nominations can be made at regional offices.

Elected ward committee members are entitled to a R1 000 monthly stipend to cover travelling and cellphone costs.​