By THE MAKANA RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION
Globally citizens are generally more engaged with national elections. Probably because the advertising expenditure and hype is much greater by the large political parties where so much is at stake for the senior administrators and politicians.
National policies do affect us all but on a day to day basis, it is the running of our local municipal councils and the services which they operate (or fail to operate) on our behalf that impact our daily lives. A significant role of local councillors is to oversee (not interfere with) the running of the administration of council functions.
Councillors have ready access to information and facilities which we, as members of the public, cannot access so easily. They are paid to carefully scrutinise council agendas and reports and request supporting information. They are also paid to communicate key information to the community and also provide feedback from the community to the administration and other politicians.
Minority opposition councillors may not be able to change matters through votes in council meetings but a thorough reading of information presented to them, including what they see on the streets and hear from their constituents, should lead to detailed questioning of documented information including whether it is complete and honest.
Motions and questions in public meetings get issues on the public record. Police cases can be opened, lifestyle audits and forensic audits can be requested, serious questions can be asked of directors and other administrators. Councillors are able to access most municipal records except personal information and all facilities. PAIA (Public Access to Information Act) can be used if all else fails.
MRA has one open police case (missing 50 x 48kg Gas bottles), 3 PAIA requests regarding assets, procurement and overtime and an ongoing engagement with the Auditor General regarding some specific issues identified in the various council and portfolio agendas.
Our water team has been monitoring the water situation for months. We recently offered to sponsor a Health and Safety inspection of the James Kleynhans Water Treatment. However, we received no support for this proposal from any of the existing councillors and we were firmly blocked by the administration.
Voting in active councillors who take the oversight and communication role very seriously and are prepared to engage with other agencies such as MRA, PSAM, LRC, Black Sash and others can and will make a difference to the future of Makana and all who live within the municipality.