Errant councillors to be banned for two years
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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Act 2021 which will bar councillors from standing as candidates for two years for breaching their Code of Conduct.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MECs will be allowed to remove councillors who breach the code and this will mean they will not be allowed to stand as candidates in elections for any municipal council for a period of two years from the date on which they are removed from office.
In terms of the new code, which is part of the amended act, councillors will be axed for two years for being absent from three or more consecutive meetings of a council and a committee, which a particular councillor is required to attend.
Councils will also be allowed to impose fines as determined by its standing rules and orders on councillors for being absent from a meeting which they are required to attend or failing to remain in attendance.
At the meetings they attend, councillors may also not vote in favour of, or agree to, a resolution which is before the council or a committee of the council, which conflicts with any legislation applicable to local government.
The code will apply to all members of a municipal council.
The previous code made provision for the removal of errant councillors but did not state the period of time.
Councillors have been urged to perform their functions in good faith, honesty and in a transparent manner at all times and to act in their municipality’s best interest and in such a manner that its credibility and integrity are not compromised.
According to the code, councillors may not be in arrears to the municipality for rates and service charges for a period longer than three months.
Other provisions of the new code include preventing councillors from using their positions or privileges, or confidential information obtained as a public office bearer for private gain or to improperly benefit another person.
They will also not be allowed to interfere in the municipality’s management or administration unless mandated by the council, give or purport to give any instruction to any employee except when authorised to do so, obstruct or attempt to obstruct the implementation of any council or committee decision by any employee and encourage or participate in any conduct which would cause or contribute to maladministration.
Councillors must also not request, solicit or accept any reward, gift or favour for voting or not voting, persuade fellow councillors or any committee when exercising any power, function or duty or make representations and disclose privileged or confidential information.
“A councillor may not use, take, acquire or benefit from any property or asset owned, controlled or managed by the municipality to which that councillor has no right,” adds the code.
The code has been amended to ensure that councillors fulfil their obligations to their communities, and support their municipality’s achievement of its objectives.
Ramaphosa, who assented to the new law on Tuesday, will determine when the amended act comes into operation through a proclamation in the Government Gazette.