The amendments being made to the Municipal Structures Act are expected to strengthen governance and root out corruption in municipalities across the country.
This is according to Dr Zweli Mkhize, minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).
Unpacking the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill in the National Assembly recently, Mkhize noted that the bill will among other things forbid councillors who were removed from office for breaching the code of conduct from becoming councillors again for a period of two years.
Municipal Public Accounts Committees
The bill will also make it mandatory for all municipalities to establish Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs) which will have oversight functions and powers which include being able to initiate investigations.
“Importantly, the amendments prohibit officials or holders of political office such as mayors, speakers, and whips from being members of MPACs. Significantly, the amendments make it mandatory for MPAC reports to be submitted to speakers, who will obliged to table these reports in council,” Mkhize explained.
Addressing urgent tasks
The minister added that the amendments would largely address the country’s five most urgent tasks, as outlined by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address earlier this month.
“The amendment bill seeks to contribute to deepening democracy, strengthening governance and bringing councillors closer to their constituencies. It abolishes the plenary-type municipality, ensuring that there is a minimum of 10 councillors in a municipality with at least five wards.”
Mkhize said addressing the needs of the people cannot be done without strengthening the State’s capacity.