By SALLY PRICE-SMITH, chairperson, Makana Residents’ Association
This week’s papers have reported some chillingly disturbing events at Makana Municipality, demonstrating that it has been completely captured and the rule book ripped up.
Firstly, the statement issued by the Speaker regarding several motions raised by the DA but not put to Council.
With apologies for stating the obvious, but the primary role of councillors is oversight of the administration. In this context, the definition of a “motion” is a request made by a councillor for an issue to be discussed at a council meeting and for a decision to be made. It is one of the key tools of oversight, the lifeblood of an effective council.
Regarding the specific issue of whether it is the role of the council to consider the performance of an MM and, in this particular case, the publicly recognised failure of the current MM based on SCOPA comments and three AG disclaimers of opinion: the Council’s single most important responsibility is to debate accountability and potential consequences.
“The municipal council, democratically elected by the residents of a municipality, has the power to appoint the municipal manager and dismiss him or her on the basis of misconduct. It can also suspend a municipal manager pending a disciplinary hearing.”Dullah Omar Institute
The question is, then, what happens if a council, regardless of self-evident offences by a municipal manager, does not want to act against the person? In the first instance, the onus rests on the residents, through the ward committees, to carry their voice across to their council members or directly to the council. This is the nature of democracy at the local level. If they are unsuccessful, it is not the end of the story. Other bodies and spheres of government also have an important role to play.
In his outrageous response to Cllr Embling in the Grocotts’ article, the Speaker’s closing remarks stating “the tendency of motions in a council meeting would not be allowed” is a deliberate and public admission of the obstruction of democratic principles. MRA will be writing to the Mayor and MEC CoGTA requesting that appropriate action is taken and the Speaker is replaced as he is clearly not fit to hold this office.
The second disturbing matter relates to the likely un-procedural signing of unelected MCF councillors. Primarily this shows a disrespect of the electorate – no matter what the leadership of any party may think about its decisions or what internal disputes it may have – having presented a slate to the voters, it must stand, and the elected must be given time to do the work the people have asked them to do.
The five PR MCF councillors, Lungile Mxube, Jonathan Walton, Philip Machanick, Jane Bradshaw, and Kungeka Mashiane, were presented to the electorate as the MCF PR list along with two other candidates, Mxolisi Ntshiba and Mncendisi Paphu on polling day. Approximately 38,000 votes were cast – 18% for MCF. These votes were cast based on the information presented in multiple ways, the huge MCF Manifesto launch in October, several media calls at Amazwi, newspaper reports including Grocott’s, the IEC published lists, several radio debates and probably most importantly door-to-door and face-to-face discussions in multiple meetings. These candidates appealed to the voters, and the voters voted accordingly; 18 districts polled higher MCF PR votes than ward candidate votes. It is worth noting here that these councillors have been making their voices heard in council and portfolio committees as is required of them.
The unelected list, which appears to represent their wishes, Ayanda Kota and a few others who assembled at Amazwi and Soccer City at various times post the election date, was never presented to the people who cast the 38,000 votes. Three on the list were unsuccessful ward candidates, and two were not on any list and had little to no involvement in MCF during the run-up to the elections.
In conclusion – please make your voices heard and express your opinion in any way you can. Both of these events are assaults on democracy which ultimately impacts any chance of restoring reliable services and completely prevents Makana from developing economically.
Organisations such as MRA are more crucial than ever, so please consider joining and adding your voice – every voice matters. As a membership organisation, the more members we have, the louder we can shout and the more we can do.