National 27.7.2016 11:40 am

Why being a councillor is to die for

Elected councillors have their work cut out for them (including a nice paycheck) – if they don’t get cut down before the election.

There are enticements to being elected councillor, such as the salary and the springboard to bigger political opportunities it may give, as well as the numerous responsibilities and restrictions.

Election hopefuls are up for these in spite of the apparent inadvertent fatal risks, particularly if they are in KwaZulu-Natal, where ANC candidates have been routinely assassinated in the months leading up to municipal elections.

READ: ‘Argue in ANC meeting today, die tomorrow’

Candidates may be in it for the salary, as, according to a report in The Star, full-time councillors may as of last year earn between R457 210 and R832 197 a year, depending on the size of the municipality, and part-time councilors between R195 712 and R416 098 a year, excluding car allowances.

For the biggest municipalities, that could be up to R70 000 a month for a full-time councillor.

As for the conditions and implications of work itself, according to schedule five of the Municipal Structures Act, all councillors, for all municipalities in South Africa, have to abide by a code of conduct, which requires them, among other things, to act as an intermediary between the community and council.

The general conduct of councillors, as outlined by Benoni City Times, according to the act, is to:

• Perform the functions of office in good faith, honesty and a transparent manner and act in such a way that the credibility and integrity of the municipality are not compromised;

• Attend each meeting of the municipal council and of a committee of which that councillor is a member, except when their leave of absence is granted or they withdraw from the meeting in terms of this code;

• Disclose to the municipal council, or to any committee of which that councillor is a member, any direct or indirect personal or private business interests that the councillor, or any spouse, partner or business associate of that councillor may have in any matter, before the council or the committee.

A councillor who, or whose spouse, partner, business associate or close family member, acquired or stands to acquire any direct benefit from a contract concluded with the municipality, must disclose full particulars of the benefit of which the councillor is aware at the first meeting of the municipal council at which it is possible for the councillor to make the disclosure.

This section does not apply to an interest or benefit which a councillor, or a spouse, partner, business associate or close family member, has or acquires in common with other residents of the municipality.

• When elected or appointed, a councillor must, within 60 days, declare in writing to the municipal manager the following financial interests held by that councillor:

• A councillor who is a full-time councillor may not undertake any other paid work, except with the consent of a municipal council, which consent shall not unreasonably be withheld.

• A councillor may not request, solicit or accept any reward, gift or favour for persuading the council or committee, or disclosing confidential information.

• A councillor may not encourage or participate in any conduct which would cause or contribute to maladministration in the council.

• 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.

The council is made up of elected members, who approve policies and bylaws for their area.

The work of the council is coordinated by a mayor who is elected by council and is assisted by an executive or mayoral committee, made up of councillors from the ruling party.

Caxton News Service

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