Joburg gears up for ward committees elections
The election of ward committees in all the City of Johannesburg’s 135 wards will take place over two weeks in 2017 – about six months after the 3 August 2016 local government polls.
This was announced by Speaker of Council Cllr Vasco da Gama on Thursday October 13. The elections will take place from 28 January 2017 to 11 February 2017 and will be supervised by the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure fairness and transparency.
Nominations of candidates open on 1 November 2016 and close on 25 November 2016. Nomination forms will be available from all municipal offices, facilities and the City website from November 2016.
Established in terms of the Local Government Act of 1998, ward committees play a critical role in municipal affairs in that they assist democratically elected representatives in all the wards to carry out their mandate. Although ward committees have no legal persona, they have an advisory role and support ward councillors. Their main objective is to enhance the participation of the public in municipal affairs. 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.
Cllr Da Gama has encouraged residents to take part in the elections to ensure that their concerns are adequately addressed at relevant council portfolio meetings. He said the City had already started making preparations for the elections.
“We have embarked on an extensive civic education awareness campaign. Residents who have time to serve their community should avail themselves to be elected by their sectors to any portfolio of their interest.”
Ward committees are constituted by portfolios such as housing, transport, public safety, finance and economic development, infrastructure and services, community development, community development, health and social development, development planning and urban management.
“The ward committees will work with councillors to ensure that public participation processes represent the full diversity of interest in their respective wards. However, the ward councillor remains at all times fully and solely accountable to council, their political party and the community.”
Ward committees under the leadership of ward councillors facilitate meaningful participation in the affairs of council and resolution of residents’ problems over and above other stakeholder engagements. They advise and make recommendations to ward councillors on matters and policy affecting the ward and assist the ward councillor in increasing the participation of residents in municipal decision-making.
Ward committee meetings are held once a month to discuss issues emanating from the community through the various sector representatives and to obtain feedback from the ward councillor on critical issues and decisions reached at council.