Background of the Political Office
A “political structure” is defined in the municipal legislation as the Council of a municipality or any committee or other collective structure, elected, designated or appointed in terms of a specific provision of Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, No. 117 of 1998.
The Executive Mayoral Committee
In a municipality that has a mayoral executive system of governance, executive leadership is vested in an executive mayor assisted by a mayoral committee. A municipal council with more than nine councillors must have a mayoral committee appointed by the executive mayor. The mayoral committee must consist of the deputy mayor (if any) and as many councillors, as may be necessary for the effective government, provided that no more than 20 per cent of the councillors or ten councillors, whichever is the least, are appointed. Council may designate that certain of the executive mayor’s powers and functions must be exercised and performed by the executive mayor together with other members of the mayoral committee.
Functions and powers of the Executive Mayor
The powers of the executive mayor are similar to those of the executive committee in a municipality that has a system of governance that includes an executive committee. An executive mayor receives reports from committees of the municipal council and forwards the reports together with a recommendation to the council when the matter cannot be disposed of by the executive mayor’s delegated powers. The executive mayor must report to the council on all decisions taken by the executive mayor.
In order to give effect to section 160(1)(b) of the Constitution, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, No. 117 of 1998 requires the municipal council to elect a Speaker from amongst its councillors at its first sitting. The Speaker’s primary roles are to act as chairperson of the municipal council and to monitor adherence by councillors and staff to the ethical standards for the conduct set out in the law.
The Speaker decides when and where the Council meets, but if a majority of the councillors requests the Speaker in writing to convene a meeting, at a time set out in the request.
The Speaker must:
- ensure that the council meets at least quarterly;
- preside at meetings of the council;
- maintain order during meetings;
- ensure compliance in the council committees with the Code of Conduct set out in Schedule 1 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, No. 32 of 2000;
- ensure that council meeting are conducted in accordance with the rules and orders of the council.
Functions prescribed by the Municipal Finance Management Act of the Speaker
- In circumstances where the Accounting Officer of a municipality or municipal entity fails to submit financial statements to the Auditor-General, or if the mayor fails to table the annual report of the municipality or municipal entity, the Auditor-General must inform the Speaker of the council of such failure. The municipal council may then request the Speaker (or any other councillor) to investigate the reasons for the failure and report to the council.
- The Speaker is responsible for the administration of the Code of Conduct for Councillors.