Durban - The work ethic of some of the councillors in eThekwini has come under scrutiny following revelations that many do not hold community meetings.
Councillors are expected to hold monthly community meetings, as well as ward committee meetings, but often neither take place.
Council Speaker Thabani Nyawose said he was concerned that it appeared that most councillors were not holding these engagements, and therefore residents were not being informed about developments in their area, and the council was not being updated about the issues affecting the community.
He took the councillors to task over this issue, warning that such behaviour would attract sanctions and a referral for investigation to the municipal ethics committee.
He said the municipality could not afford to have councillors who failed to meet with residents.
“On community engagement, this relates to compliance with the councillor code of conduct. Council members are to hold constituency meetings at least quarterly. However, the ‘back to basics’ strategy encourages (councillors to hold such meetings) monthly, to keep members of the public updated,” Nyawose said.
He added that there were some councillors who had complained to the speaker’s office about the lack of funds required to hold these meetings, and this issue was being addressed.
He said that in February only 14 out of the 111 mandated community engagements had been held.
“Some councillors deliberately do not want to convene these meetings. I want to convey to this council officially that those who do not want to convene these meetings are going to be subjected to a disciplinary process.
“We cannot as the eThekwini Municipality, with the challenges that we have currently, avoid interacting with our community. People need to know what’s happening in the City, the plans to address the challenges, and if we don’t engage it means people are in the dark,” he said.
Nyawose said at the end of the third quarter a report would be referred to the ethics committee on the general conduct of councillors.
“Don’t be surprised. I am informing you in advance that I will submit a report to ethics with your names,” said Nyawose. He added that ward committee meetings were also “low”, with only 78 convened meetings out of a possible 111 last month. However, he said when the speaker’s office demanded evidence that the 78 meetings had actually taken place, only 19 councillors were able to provide it.
“This shows that some of us do not take seriously the issue of involving our communities in what we do. If you don’t convene your ward committee meetings, where do you report? Where do you get the issues that affect the community? They should come through your ward committee.”
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said DA councillors attended to community needs and convened meetings where necessary.
“The speaker must focus on making sure that departments like water and sanitation, electricity, and DSW (Durban Solid Waste), do what they are supposed to do to supply services to the people.”
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the speaker’s office needed to enforce discipline.
“If there are so many councillors not doing their work, it will undermine the confidence of the community and make the community believe councillors do not take them seriously.”