KZN municipalities executive mayoral system under scrutiny
They argue the latter would give more powers, responsibilities and accountability to mayors.
The department recently revealed that it was looking at amending the KZN Types of Municipalities Act to change the system, believing it would ensure accountability on the part of the mayors in the province.
The Cape Town and Johannesburg municipalities use the executive mayoral system.
In the current proportional representation system, used in all KZN municipalities, the mayor leads the municipality with an executive committee that is representative of the parties in council.
With the change, to a mayoral system the mayor would have more powers to create portfolios and deploy party representatives to those portfolios. Detractors, however, say the executive mayoral system would stifle transparency as opposition parties would be sidelined from political leadership of municipalities.
Cogta MEC Sipho Hlomuka revealed that discussions to amend the KZN Types of Municipalities Act had already started.
“We will report to the legislature as soon as this matter has been finalised. We have also engaged with different political parties represented in our municipalities to deal comprehensively with inter-party tensions.”
Hlomuka said the department was not amending the act, but was investigating the possibility of amending it.
“The benefit of this is that you would have an executive mayoral system, like that which is practised by other provinces. This will allow for the appointment of executive mayors who will in turn appoint mayoral committee members.
“The department believes that this will make it easier to hold the mayor and the mayoral committee accountable. In the current executive committee system it is difficult to hold the collective accountable for decisions that are made as it includes many parties.
“The department is conducting more research on this and is looking into the feasibility of changing the types of municipalities in the province,” he said.
Sabelo Gwala, the provincial manager of the South African Local Government Association (Salga), said they had made a submission in support of the proposal, saying it would lead to better direction, action and ease inter-party clashes in municipalities.
“For instance, if the balance of power in a municipality is too close, that could paralyse the municipality.
“With the change to the executive mayor, the mayor has more powers to select his own team, that means that the mayor could freeze out the opposition and they would have very limited insight into the affairs of the municipality,” said Gwala.
IFP Cogta spokesperson Otto Kunene said changing the system was not a magic wand that would resolve the problems plaguing municipalities.
“What is required is accountability and consequence management and implementation of the rules.
“We do not believe in changing the system, we believe that the current system, in which all parties are represented and can therefore keep an eye on how the taxpayer’s money is spent, works very well,” he said.