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Councils and officials warned against funding political parties, candidates in local government elections

Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 29, 2021

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Johannesburg - The SA Local Government Association (Salga) has warned municipalities and their officials against using public funds to contribute to their favoured political parties and councillor candidates' local government elections war chest.

Salga issued the stern warning this month and cautioned that flouting it could lead to municipalities incurring irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and their officials charged with financial misconduct in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

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”Any official who instructs or process or approve such expenditure will be liable for the expenditure in terms of section 32 of the MFMA and may be charged for financial misconduct in terms of the provisions of the MFMA and the 2014 Financial Misconduct Regulations,” explained Salga in a presentation, Ensuring the Continued Functioning of Council and Committees of Council, dated October 6.

In terms of the act, political office bearers and officials in municipalities who deliberately or negligently committed, made or authorised irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure are liable for that expenditure.

”Municipalities are urged not to make any funding, in payment or in kind, available to any political party or any party representative leading up to the local government elections,” the association advised.

According to Salga, the National Treasury warned that the use of municipal funds to make donations or any other form of contribution to political parties will constitute irregular, as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and therefore must not be incurred.

”Municipalities that use municipal funds for any functions or purposes related to the local government elections will be acting outside their legal mandate,” Treasury informed Salga.

Salga has also outlined the processes to be followed by new councils after Monday’s local government elections results are declared as expected on Thursday.

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The first meeting of the newly-elected local and metropolitan councils must take place within 14 days from November 4, which is by November 18.

Newly-elected district councils are expected to sit for their first meetings within 14 days after local council meetings, which means by December 2.

The first council meetings elect the speaker, mayors, executive committees, the whips, chairpersons of the municipal public accounts committees and other committees established in terms of section 79 of the Municipal Structures Act.

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In local municipalities, the first council meeting will also elect its representatives to the relevant district municipality.

Salga has urged the new councils to strive to convene as soon as possible to activate the governance structures and office bearers to ensure that executive decisions can be taken and that there is no interruption in service delivery.

Municipal officials whose employment contracts are directly linked to the term of office of the outgoing councillors and office bearers these will be terminated from the date on which the election results are declared.

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The association has also suggested that this is a general rule and each case will be required to be judged on the specifics of the individual official’s employment contract.

However, it wants the affected staff to be informed of the termination of their contracts and contingency arrangements put in place.

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POLITICAL BUREAU

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