Public participation allows us citizens to decide how our communities are governed. The Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998, requires that municipalities develop mechanisms to consult communities and community organisations in performing their functions and exercising its powers.
These structures are Ward Committees which link the Community and Councillors to influence municipal planning in a manner which best addresses their needs.
According to legislation, the first meeting of the newly elected council must take place within 14 days after the election results are gazetted. Before this meeting the Ward Committee must be ready to input.
Why are ward committees important?
Ward committees give meaning to the term “the people shall govern”. Local government is closest to the people and ward committees is the way to ensure that citizens give input to the decisions that local councils make.
The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) says ward committees are important in fostering relations between ward councillors and key stakeholders at ward level, such as traditional councils and community development workers.
Terms of office for ward committees
The terms of office of ward committees are aligned to that of municipal councils and the municipality must, as soon as possible after the results of the elections have been declared, arrange ward meetings in order for the interest groups in the ward to be identified and subsequently for the ward committees to be elected, according to the system applicable in each respective municipality.
Election of ward committees
SALGA has developed a Code of Conduct for Ward Committee Members, which are available at all municipalities. The Speaker shall call a meeting in the ward for the election of a ward committee. SALGA also developed a WARD COMMITTEE ESTABLISHMENT AND ELECTION GUIDING FRAMEWORK for municipalities, councillors and communities to follow.
Nominations shall be open for 10 but not more than 15 nominees.
Closure of nominations may be proposed when there are 10 nominations and, if carried, there shall be no voting. If nominations exceed 10, then voting shall take place. The ward councillor and Community Participation and Action Support Unit must ensure that meetings are a fair representation of all recognised sectors identified by the municipality and a quorum of at least 100 qualifying community members are present to vote. An attendance register must also completed.
What are the functions of ward committees?
A ward committee may make recommendations on any matter affecting its ward to the ward councillor, or through the ward councillor to the municipal council, the executive committee or support committee.
The ward committee will be regarded as the statutory structure recognised by the municipal council as its consultative body and communication channel on matters affecting the ward, including, but not limited to:
- representing the community on the compilation and implementation of the Integrated Development Plan;
- ensuring constructive and harmonious interaction between the municipality and the community;
- attending to all matters that affect and benefit the community;
- acting in the best interest of the community, and
- ensuring active participation of the community in the municipality’s budgetary process.
More facts on ward committees
- Ward committees are made up of representatives of a particular ward.
- They are made up of members who represent various interests within the ward.
- Ward committees are chaired by the ward councillor.
- They are meant to be an institutionalised channel of communication and interaction between communities and municipalities.
- Wards give community members the opportunity to express their needs, their opinions on issues that affect their lives and to have them heard at the municipal level via the ward councillor.
- Wards are advisory bodies created within the sphere of civil society to assist the ward councillor in carrying out his or her mandate in the most democratic manner possible.
Code of conduct for Ward Committee
Ward committee members are elected to represent the various interest groups represented in the
community in a ward and report on matters affecting the ward or emanating from the ward to the
municipality, through its ward councillors and in accordance with the processes determined by the relevant
municipality. This code list the responsibilities of members of ward committees and recommends standards
of ethical conduct with which each member of a ward committee must comply. These standards are
applicable to members of the ward committee when dealing with:
• Other ward committee members;
• the ward councillor of that specific ward and all other councillors of the municipality;
• the municipal administration;
• the community represented in the ward committee;
• the constituents of a specific municipality, including civil society,trade unions, NOG’s, vulnerable communities and other role players in the ward;
• service providers of the municipality rendering services in the ward, where required;
• traditional leaders where applicable
• other stakeholders.
Aims and objectives of the code of conduct
The aims and object of the code of conduct is to:
• set out the functions of a member of the ward committee and to specify the standards of
integrity and conduct to be observed by ward committee members in their role to assist the
municipality to met its objectives and standards, in accordance with its current IDP;
• inform the public about the responsibilities of ward committee members in a specific ward;
• enhance the image, credibility and accountability of the council to the community in a specific
ward where such a member serves;
• maintain the trust, respect and co-operation between members of the ward committees and all
members of the community represented in the ward.
Members of the Ward Committee are primarily accountable to the community that elect them. Members
of ward committees are however, also required to act in accordance with the National Framework :Criteria
for the Determining of Out of Pocket Expenses for Ward Committee Members, 2009 and any additional
framework in this regard adopted by a specific municipality in which the ward committee operates.
Functions of ward committee members
The function a ward committee is to effectively support the elected ward councillor for that ward and to
serve the community, by inter alia:
1. Organising and attending meetings of the ward;
2. Submission and tabling of reports and plans addressing the needs and priorities of the ward and to
provide feedback on the functions rendered by the municipality that impacts on the ward, in order
to formulate recommendations to be submitted to the municipality through the ward councillor;
3. Facilitating feedback on matters raised with the Council through the ward councillor;
4. Attend to do door-to-door campaigns and arrange interaction with substructures in the ward, such
as street committees;
5. Keep record of and attend to all complaints, queries and requests received from the community in
the ward and to attend to it, though the ward councillor;
6. Distribute publications as required;
7. Management and updating of ward profiles as well as the database of the indigent households;
8. Participation in plans and programmes of municipalities and other spheres of government impacting
on the ward development;
9. Facilitating participation by the community in all affairs of the municipality;
10. Foster a good working relationship with CDWs operating in the ward.
General principles of good governance to be complied with by ward committee members:
Members should strive to serve the best interest of the community from which they are elected, by recommending municipal programmes that are community centred, driven and implemented, recognising any diversity in the ward.
Members should always act with integrity in the execution of their functions as members of the ward
committee, without fear, favour or prejudice .
Members may not use their positions as ward committee members for private gain or to improperly
benefit any third party.
Members should make decisions on merit , based on the mandate received from their ward. They may not
act in any manner that will compromise the credibility, impartiality or independence of the ward committee.
Members are accountable to the ward community that they serve.
Regular report back
The ward councillor and members of the ward committee are responsible for feedback to the community
and the constituency of their ward.
Members promote transparency and should be open and honest about their actions and those of the ward
councillor and should welcome community enquiries , thereby creating trust and respect between all roleplayers.
Ward committees should work on the basis of consensus reached in the committee, failing which, a majority
decision will prevail.
Members should provide leadership to the ward and set a good example of responsible citizenship.
Members must apply the Batho Pele principles when dealing with members of the public.
The ward committee members must in all their actions deepen and strengthen public participation and
local democracy .
Meetings of ward committees shall be held in accordance with the framework set by the municipality, and
when requested by a majority of ward committee members. Ward committee members shall attend all meetings, unless a written apology is submitted to the ward councillor no less than twenty four hours prior to such a meeting.
Sanctions for non-attendance of meetings
In the event of a ward Committee member failing to attend three (3) consecutive scheduled meetings
without any prior apology, or fail to fulfil any of his/ her other functions as set out above, a report should
be submitted to the council in this regard.
Ward committee members must avoid conflict between themselves and between members and the ward
councillor. In the event of a dispute between the members, the Ward Councillor must mediate between
members. In the event of a dispute between ward committee members and the ward councillor, the ward committee
and ward councillor must prepare a submission signed by both parties to the Speaker requesting the
Speaker to appoint another councillor from the municipality to mediate between the parties.
Ward Committee Establishment and Election Guiding Framework, 2016
Procedure for Election
a) The Municipal Manager should advertise a notice for the establishment of Ward Committees
in all respective wards of the Municipality in the local newspapers and inviting nominations
for organisations, sectors and geographical areas.
b) The Municipal Manager should ensure that in addition, other relevant means of
communication should be used to communicate the establishment of Ward Committees
to residents with each ward.
c) Where more than one election in a ward is to take place due to the ward’s geographical
nature, the number of Ward Committee members of each area where meetings will take
place, should be determined proportionally according to the registered number of voters
in terms of the IEC’s voters roll
d) The meetings should be conducted by the respective Ward Councillor(s) or a Proportional
Representative Councillor (PR), mandated by the Speaker.
e) The Municipal Manager should appoint a competent Manager or official to act as an Election
Officer during theWard Committee election.
f) A minimum of not lessthan 5 (five) organisations and /sectorsshould be elected as members
of a particular Ward Committee whilst the balance should be elected from geographical
g) The organisations/sectors eligible for election must have been operational in the particular
ward for at least one (1) year and must within three (3) months after election submit to
the Office of the Speaker a Constitution or official registration documentation.
h) The ratio between organisations/sectors and geographical block representation, also taking
into consideration (f) above, must be properly canvassed and provided for in a council
adopted policy and such should be presented and agreed upon by the voters (public)
i) The geographical block representatives should establish a committee for the identified
block within thirty (30) days after the Ward Committee election to structure a process to
be used to ensure a structured interaction between the Ward Committee and members
of the community for such to be formalized as part of the annual work plan of the Ward
j) Only registered voters, whose names appear on the voters roll for the particular ward,
should be eligible to participate in the elections of the particular Ward Committee.
k) An eligible voter must only make one nomination or second a nomination for an
organisation/sector and/ geographical block respectively, during the election process of a
particular Ward Committee.
l) Voting for members of a Ward Committee should take place by secret ballot, on pro-forma
ballot papers prepared by the municipality.
m) A registered person can only vote for one organisation/sector and one geographical block
representative during the election process of a particular Ward Committee.
n) If an organisation/sector is to be represented on the Ward Committee no other member
of the executive of that particular organisation/sector should be eligible to be elected as a
geographical block representative for the particular Ward Committee.
o) Nominations for organisations/sector and geographical blocks respectively should be
accepted in the order of the highest to the lowest number of votes achieved during the
p) In the event that more nominations are received than available opportunity for
representation or vacancies on the particular Ward Committee, the meeting should decide
to place the particular nominations on a replacement list.
q) If a member of a Ward Committee resigns or seizes to be a member, the organisation/
sector/geographical block on the short list (taking into consideration the agreed ratio) which
received the next highest number of votes at the election will be eligible to fill the vacancy.
In the absence of a shortlist theWard Committee may decide to fill the vacancy in terms
of the process set out in this chapter.
r) The appointed Manager or Official presiding over the election process must announce the
total votes cast for organisational representatives and representatives at the meeting and
such results must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
s) Any person nominated on behalf of an organisation/sector/ geographical block must
indicate his/her acceptance of such nomination prior the voting process.
t) If the same number of votes is cast during any election the result should be determined by
way of casting the lot.
u) The decision(s) of the appointed Presiding Officer will be final, upon applying the applicable
rules for election purposes set out in this framework.
v) If a person (organisation/sector/geographical block representative) makes any
misrepresentation regarding eligibility as a candidate at a meeting, such person or
organisation should be disqualified to serve as a member for the term of the Ward
w) The election results for the establishment of Ward Committees should be officially
reported to the Council by the Municipal Manager.
Process of handling objections
a) An objection to the election process may be submitted in writing to a Provincial Department
of Cooperative Governance within 14 days following the date in which the election was
b) The relevant Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance should acknowledge
receipt within seven working days upon receipt of an objection.
c) An investigation should be conducted in consultation with all the affected interest groups
and the municipality.
d) The complainant should be advised of the outcome of the objection within 30 days from
the date the objection was launched.
e) The municipality has an obligation to ensure that all pending objections have been finalized
before the new Ward Committee members are formally introduced to the community
Reimbursement of out of Pocket Expenses
Ward Committee members or their secundus should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses in accordance with a pre – approved formal schedule which should be included in the current municipal operational budget. The Ward Committee members should be obliged to:
i. Attend formal scheduled Ward Committee meetings (per Council’s meeting cycle) and should be present for the duration of such meetings.
ii. Communicate regular service delivery request (if any) via the existing formal municipal communication channels
iii. Attend training and capacity building programmes and be present for the duration of such programmes.
iv. Ensure that quarterly report-back meetings are held with their respective organisations, sectors, and geographical blocks. (Each member should be required to submit minutes of meetings to serve as proof of meetings held).
v. Attend and/or participate in other forums or meetings as formally communicated by the municipality and should be present for the duration of such meetings.
vi. Elected Ward Committee members should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses as per the following guidelines, namely:
a. That the reimbursement amount should be paid to the Ward Committee members in person and not to the organisation/sector/geographical block that he/ or she represents
b. That secundus for representatives of organisations/sectors should not be reimbursed for attendance in the absence of the first/second nominated representatives at a particular, official Ward Committee meeting.
c. That reimbursement only be paid on verification of attendance register of meetings attended and that reimbursement should only be electronically transferred to the bank account of the relevant Ward Committee member(s)
d. That a Ward Committee member may elect not to be reimbursed by informing the municipality in writing to such effect.
Pledge by ward committee members
All members of the ward committee must upon election sign the pledge set out below, in order to show their commitment towards the ward committee that have been elected to. This must be taken in a form of an oath by each member of a ward committee The pledge reads as follows:
I ……………………………………………………………………… solemnly declare:
I ……………………………………………………………………… from ward ………………………………………………….. pledge to advance and act in the best interest of Ward No……………………………………..community,…………………………………………municipality. I confirm
that I am residing within the jurisdiction of …………………………………………………Municipality, dedicated resident and registered voter of Ward No:………………………………………… community.
I further declare that I have read and understand the code of conduct for ward committee members as informed by the provision of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998 , the National Framework: Criteria for the Determining of Out of Pocket Expenses for Ward Committee Members, 2009 and all relevant frameworks as well as the Standing Orders of ……… Municipality. I have carefully studied this code of conduct unimpeded and freely, and I cannot claim ignorance of it. I fully agree that I shall be bound by the Code of Conduct in the execution of my duties and functions as a loyal and disciplined member of a Ward Committee. I further acknowledge that my remuneration for out of pocket expenses (if applicable in my municipality) is subject to me fulfilling my obligations as set out above.
Signed…………………………………………….. at………………………………..this ……..day of ……………………… year……………………..