MPs approve bill to revamp councils
Cape Town - The municipal systems amendment bill finally got the nod in the National Assembly on Tuesday, after its passage through the house was delayed in March because of a lack of a quorum.
The bill received the support of all parties in the assembly on Tuesday.
Introducing the bill for debate on March 24, acting Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nathi Mthethwa said it sends a clear signal that municipalities had to be more professional in how they did their business.
It seeks, among other things, to ensure that competent and well qualified officials are appointed to provide the best possible service to the people.
In some cases municipalities, regardless of the political party in leadership, were staffed by employees not qualified to undertake their duties.
"It is for this reason that this bill makes it mandatory for municipalities to employ appropriately qualified and competent persons.
"The days of appointing book-keepers, teachers and social scientists as CFOs (chief financial officers) are over," Mthethwa said.
"We also hear some people criticising the ruling party's approach to the employment of key staff in municipalities. They say it has brought embarrassment to our system.
"We will recognise that in some instances we have made mistakes and some employees have not discharged their duties as required. Today we make a commitment that valid cases will be addressed as part of our performance management system in municipalities, and this legislation will assist us to do this," he said.
The bill also stipulates that municipal managers and those directly reporting to them may not occupy office in any political party.
Those appointed to manage positions in a municipality should exercise their responsibilities without fear, favour or prejudice and their focus should always be on making the administration function better.
"Let them leave politics to councillors who are deployed by their political parties to exercise political oversight."
Mthethwa said everyone would agree corruption is an enemy of development, as well as endeavours to eradicate poverty and unemployment.
"We are tackling this head-on (in the bill). We have taken a major step by regulating the re-employment of employees dismissed for serious misconduct."
Those found to have defrauded the state would have no space in the local government sphere. Officials found guilty of serious misconduct, such as fraud and corruption, could not be re-employed by any municipality for 10 years, Mthethwa said.
The bill further compels organised local government to consult with the minister and fiscal and financial commission before embarking on negotiations in the collective bargaining council.
"In many instances there are consequences for the entire municipal sphere and even on the national fiscus arising from the decisions taken in the bargaining council," he said.
The bill now goes to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.