Ward committees aim to build bridges

Pictured at the back, from, left, are committee members for Ward 75, Nadeema Flowers, Washiela Harris, Sharon October, Mogamat Ali Meniers, Ihsaan Abrahams, Mervyn J Muller, Noel Taylor and Michael Jacobs. Seated in front is Joan Woodman, councillor for Ward 75.

Ward committee members have their work cut out for them, as they complete the link between residents, ward councillors and local government.

Sub-council 23 ward committee members met with councillors for wards 33, 43, 75 and 76 at a combined inaugural meeting at the Lentegeur council chambers on Thursday February 9.

Elton Jansen, sub-council chairman and councillor for Ward 43, welcomed members and outlined their duties in advising and assisting their ward councillors to improve service delivery.

“As a ward committee member you will be required to give comment on a variety of issues impacting on your ward,” he said.

He said the committee can make recommendations on any matter affecting the ward so that ward councillors can make recommendations to sub-council. “As members of the committee you must actively seek to understand the needs of your sector by regularly talking to residents and then submitting important matters for inclusion on the agenda, so that you can then report back on these needs at the committee meetings – in effect you will act as the formal mouthpiece of the residents.”

Mr Jansen also advised ward councillors to take heed of what their committee is saying to improve service delivery.

“This committee will act as a structured channel of communication between council and communities, and will assist council in conducting public participation on matters, such as the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), policy formulation and other initiatives.”

Mr Jansen wished members well over their tenure, which ends at the next municipal elections in 2021. He called on members to take advantage of the opportunity to grow personally, acquiring knowledge and capacity building skills to further inspire them to improve their involvement in and understanding of local government matters.

Ward member and committee tasks include acting as an advisory to the ward councillor; they act as a resource through which the structures of the council may consult and canvas community opinions on any matter; give input on any matter affecting the ward; assist sub-council in understanding and identifying the needs of the community; assist the council in formulating budget proposals relevant to the ward; monitor and report on service delivery in the ward; act as a structured channel of communication between the sub-council and the community; assist the council in the performance of its public participation mandate in the IDP, municipal by-laws, budget, policy formulation and performance management systems; and to encourage and enable the community to become actively involved in governance issues of the council as they pertain to the ward.

A ward committee must conduct a minimum of six quorate meetings annually, which are convened by the ward councillor, except where at least 50 percent of the members submit a written request to the councillor that a meeting be convened; and in the case where there is no quorum, the chairperson shall proceed with the meeting for members present and register it as an informal meeting.

Members are accountable to the council, all its structures and respective sectors, that is business, civic-based organisations, designated vulnerable groups, sports, youth, arts and culture, education and safety and security organisations. Members receive R500 per month for out of pocket expenses.