Pretoria - The City of Tshwane is yet to elect ward committees after nearly nine years since the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, nullified the outcomes of the 2012 elections.
Last year, the then speaker of the council, Dr Murunwa Makwarela, promised that the process for nominating and electing ward committees was scheduled to start in January.
However, that process never saw the light of day as Makwarela was elected as the executive mayor and subsequently embroiled in controversy related to his insolvency status declared by the high court in 2016.
He resigned after it emerged that he failed to declare his insolvency status and was accused of faking his insolvency rehabilitation certificate.
He has since been charged at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court with two counts of fraud relating to his failure to disclose his insolvency status and the other for submitting a fake rehabilitation letter to the council.
The incumbent speaker, Mncedi Ndzwanana, recently used social media to remind residents about the “upcoming establishment of ward committees”.
The date for the nomination process and elections was, however, yet to be made known.
Ndzwanana said ward committees were important to promote and enhance community involvement in the affairs of the municipality.
“Ward committees are the democratically elected members of a specific ward which are meant to promote community participation by making the municipality aware of the needs and concerns of residents and inform residents about municipal activities,” he said.
The Pretoria News reported in the past that the nominations and election process would soon take place after the promulgation of the City of Tshwane ward committees by-law last year.
The ward committees by-law came into operation with effect in December 14, last year, and effectively paved a way for the establishment of ward committees in all 107 wards in Tshwane in terms of Section 73 to 78 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act.
The City has been working without ward committees for a decade after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in 2014 nullified the ward committees’ elections, which took place in 2012 under the then ANC Tshwane administration.
The ruling followed a legal challenge by the DA questioning the constitutionality of the committee elections on the grounds that they excluded the participation of public members.
The process for correcting the unconstitutionality of the by-law was set in motion years ago, but was delayed on several occasions.
For example, on March 30, 2017 the draft ward committees by-law was presented to the council by the Office of the Speaker for approval after public participation processes.
In 2018, the municipality was on the verge of hosting the ward committees elections when the then speaker, Katlego Mathebe, was forced to call off the process after it was discovered that the amended by-law risked excluding other members of the public from participating in the ward committee elections.
The postponement of elections, which had already been advertised, was said to have cost the municipality at least R4 million.
A message on the Speaker’s Facebook page reads: “Ward committees serve for a period of five years, and members are expected to attend monthly meetings where they advise ward councillors about the needs of communities.”