ARTICLE BY DON FORBES – DOCRRA COMMITTEE MEMBER
The Municipal Structures Act of 1998 provides for Ward Committees to be set up within category A & B Municipalities.
The primary function of a ward committee is to be a formal communication channel between the community and the municipal council. Ward committees are the advisory committees which make recommendations on matters affecting the ward or the community.
A ward committee consists of:
- the councillor as the chair and
- up to 10 persons who are elected by the community from within the ward
The ward councillor, being the chair, is the direct link between ward committee, the community and the council and must ensure that community problems are dealt with in an appropriate way and that feedback is communicated to the ward committee and citizens.
The Ward Committee:
- supports the councillor in working with the community thus ensuring proper communication is maintained between the council and the ward committee.
- should be area based with a mix of representatives to promote public participation encouraging input and partnership into planning and implementation of municipal services.
- should strengthen the relationship with the community by reporting on council matters on a regular basis inclusive the IDP, Performance management, the budgeting process and matters of concern as it affects the community.
- main task is to consult with the community and make sure the citizens are involved in and informed about council decisions.
- must ensure that records are kept and minutes are taken giving financial and administrative support to enable the ward committee to do their work.
- Citizen and community participation are part of effective and accountable governance at local level.
- Policies and legislation provide a strong foundation for public participation and effective and accountable local governance.
- Structured and institutionalised processes and mechanisms are key to successful ward committees and public participation.
- Ward committees play an important role to ensure formal and proper communication between the community and the council.
- The councillor as chair has a very important role to play.
- Ward committees need support of the community to function effectively.
- A healthy relationship must exist between the council, councillor community and the ward committee.