The interministerial committee on local government elections has on Sunday congratulated and thanked all role players in the August 3 municipal elections, saying the elections were fiercely contested in a spirit of remarkable political maturity and tolerance.
“We are confident that all political parties and their office bearers will continue to work collectively to move the country forward,” the committee said in a statement.
The voter turnout was higher than in past municipal polls and the turnout of first time voters was strong. The inspirational demonstration of active citizenship and patriotism displayed by many South Africans who turned up in their numbers to cast their ballots was commended.
“Government reiterates the view that the violence and intolerance we saw in some provinces prior to the election has no place in our maturing democracy and will not be condoned. We will continue to work through our justice and crime prevention structures to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to book,” the committee said.
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) was also commended for successfully managing the elections in a transparent, diligent, and exemplary fashion with only minimal negative incidents.
“We are satisfied that the IEC has built on its reputation of holding successful and credible elections. This impeccable record and work of the IEC during the elections was complemented by party agents, and local and international observer missions who monitored our electoral process.”
The success of these elections was plain for all to see but it was nothing short of a mammoth undertaking. A record 200 parties and 61,014 candidates contested the elections, and South Africans throughout the country were able to cast their ballots at one of the 22,612 voting stations.
Now that the elections were over, all thoughts inevitably turned to the metros and councils, along with the new mayors and new councillors. The co-operative governance and traditional affairs department had been preparing for the aftermath of the elections for some time and all systems were in place to ensure an efficient and effective local government, the committee said.
There were currently eight metropolitan municipalities and 44 district municipalities – and these would remain unchanged. However, the number of local municipalities had been reduced by 21 to 205 and there were 257 municipalities across the country. To this effect, the department would monitor the amalgamation of the affected municipalities and deal with any outstanding transitional issues.
In the coming weeks, new mayors and councillors would be sworn in. These men and women from various political parties had been entrusted with the will of the people and must now deliver on their promises.
The municipal managers of all municipalities had 14 days within which to call the first council meetings and it was envisaged that this would happen sooner in most cases. All municipal managers were aware of their responsibilities in this regard. This included the preparation of handover reports and the development of staff establishments and ward committees.
“At this meeting the speaker will be elected. The speaker will then take over proceedings and facilitate the election of the mayor of each municipality.
“Working with the South African Local Government Association, we will ensure the implementation of the integrated councillor induction programme. This programme will serve to inform the councillors of their roles and responsibilities in relation to that of officials, the various procedures to be followed, as well as the legislative and other government programmes in place to guide this.”
This would include issues such as councillor oversight, good governance principles, delegations, roles and responsibilities, co-operative governance, standing rules of order, the code of conduct, financial management, government communication, and strategic planning. The programme would be rolled out as soon as municipalities started working, the committee said.
It was also important to note that incoming councillors were duty bound to act within the constitutional parameters, and the rules and regulations applicable to local government. “We wish them all well and are certain that they will carry out their duties in the best interests of the nation.In addition, we are confident that all political parties and their office bearers will continue to work together to move the country forward.”
The committee thanked all South Africans for conducting themselves in a responsible manner. These elections had shown that South Africa’s democracy was strong and that the will of the people remained paramount.
“Together we can build on the gains we have made during 15 years of democratic local government by ensuring that we remain a winning nation, and this includes both voters and representatives of political parties, whether successful or not.
“Indeed, these elections reflected the growing political maturity in our country as well as the deepening of our democracy. Our successful elections are a victory for democracy,” the committee said.
– African News Agency (ANA)