Municipalities do not exist or function apart from their respective local communities. Local government’s primary function is to provide basic services to their local residents and businesses. In order to create and facilitate mutual respect and support, municipalities must work hand in hand with their communities to fulfil their obligations.
However, such a relationship can be achieved only if local residents feel that they are consulted on important issues and that they are included in decision-making processes. Governmental accountability and public participation in municipal processes and decisions are constitutionally protected principles and must be provided for within a framework of certain minimum standards.
Ward Councillors and Ward Committees
Ward committees in the local context hardly function at all – clear focus seems to be missing and they show a lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities. Ward committees have no real power and are therefore not taken seriously by the community or by the decision-makers in municipalities. In many instances ward committees have become nothing more than extensions of political parties who are easily subjected to manipulation. Ward committee members have insufficient training to carry out mandated activities. Ward committees lack both administrative and infrastructural support. Ward committees have displaced many vibrant community initiatives such as rate payer’s associations, resident’s associations, cultural groupings, etc. The ward committee system has become a convenient vehicle through which municipalities can say that they have satisfied the public participation compliance that is demanded in the Municipal Systems Act.
The current decision-making process at MLM does not allow residents an opportunity to directly inform the IDP and budget processes. Instead, the municipality accepts representational participation through ward councillors as adequate. Effective implementation of the IDP depends on community participation in all its phases, to ensure participation in policy-making, planning and project implementation. In this way, the municipality will draw on the creative energy and expertise of communities, and show interests of the society must ultimately be taken by the people themselves.
What transpired during the last week at our municipality is of serious concern! Officials still do not understand their duty to properly plan and inform the community of IDP and Budget meetings. Sending out notices selectively 1 day in advance is one thing, but for municipal officials and councilors not to attend their own meeting, planned for 18 May, is disrespectful to the community of Frankfort.
MBF invite residents, business owners and ratepayers to visit our offices at 18A Kerk Street, Frankfort on Mondays to Thursdays from 08h30 to 16h00 and Fridays 08h30 to 12h00. Call or send a WhatsApp message to Marina at 079 145 4295 / 060 537 9408. Visit our website www.mafubebf.org and follow us on Facebook.