MUNICIPAL SYSTEMS ACT, 2000 – Schedule 1 Code of conduct for councillors

Preamble 

Councillors are elected to represent local communities on municipal councils, to ensure that municipalities have structured mechanisms of accountability to local communities, and to meet the priority needs of communities by providing services equitably, effectively and sustainably within the means of the municipality. In fulfilling this role councillors must be accountable to local communities and report back at least quarterly to constituencies on council matters, including the performance of the municipality yin terms of established indicators. In order to ensure that councillors fulfil their obligations to their communities, and support the achievement by the municipality of its objectives set out in section 19 of the Act, the following Code of Conduct is established.

YOUR LOCAL WARD COUNCILLOR’S ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES

JOBURG – Graham de Kock, a councillor and the deputy chief whip of the Democratic Alliance in the City of Johannesburg, talks about the duties of ward councillors.

Ward councillors act as spokespersons for the needs of residents in certain wards.

Their contact details are invaluable numbers to have on your phone and also helps you to get involved in the goings-on in your area.

The duties of ward councillors often come into question by both frustrated and curious residents and their role in the community is often scrutinised.

City of Johannesburg councillor Graham de Kock, who has been a councillor since 2011, is the deputy chief whip of Joburg’s Democratic Alliance and who previously served as a city official in EThekwini Municipality for 20 years, offers some clarification.

“The City employs 235 ward councillors. This effectively means that for each ward in the City, a representative is elected to Council by the residents of that specific area. Keeping in mind that South Africa is still a young democracy, the actual role and responsibilities of councillors are relatively unknown to the public.

“Whilst residents do not vote directly on Council decisions, the councillor is mandated to take upon themselves the views of the residents and amplify the community’s voice in Council. As a result of this, councillors are certainly expected to be accessible to residents, allowing them the opportunity to be part of public involvement and increase participation.

“Councillors need to report back to their communities at least once a quarter. They should use available communication channels to engage with their communities. This could include, for example, email newsletters, social media pages, and a WhatsApp group dedicated to residents of the ward. 

“Your ward councillor should be reasonably available, but not necessarily always on call. Many councillors do have, and are permitted by legislation to hold, alternative employment.” 

He said a ward councillor is also not required to be a resident of the ward they represent.

And finally, a councillor may not give any instruction to City officials, as theirs is an oversight role.

“It may come as a surprise, but residents should know that their councillor may not, by law, instruct an official to take any particular action.

“Nevertheless, councillors are encouraged to build good relationships with officials of the City in their ward and region.”