The separation of executive and legislative functions in Joburg was of particular interest to its visitors, who came to talk experience with their “big brother”.
OFFICIALS from Mbombela local municipality were welcomed to Joburg by Executive Mayor Parks Tau when they visited Joburg to learn about governance structure and the separation of executive and legislative functions.
The knowledge-sharing session between the two municipalities took place at the Metro Centre in Braamfontein on 25 April and was facilitated by the Johannesburg Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (Jike).
Mbombela, formerly Nelspruit, is the capital of Mpumalanga Province.
The member of the mayoral committee for transport, Rehana Moosajee, chaired the meeting and welcomed the guests. “We are deeply humbled (that) you have come to visit because we strongly believe in learning and sharing,” she said.
Tau concurred: “We are keen to learn from you and share experiences of governance and administration.” He went on to give an overview of the structure of the Joburg council, focusing on the separation of functions – done to facilitate oversight and accountability – which was introduced in 2006.
“The system is maturing and creates healthy tension,” Tau said. “It is in line with our system of governance that we have to clarify roles and delegation of functions.”
Officials also worked the City’s Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) – Joburg 2040 – which was launched in October 2011, into the roles and functions of the executive and legislative arms of government. “It sets clear transformation objectives so we are changing from measuring numbers to measuring transformation.
“For us, transformation is about orientation of the City towards driving an agenda that is progressive,” he said. This opened doors for discussions about how governance should be carried out. “The model has served us well, but we want to reopen discussions of the model for critical analysis.”
Gerald Dumas, Joburg’s chief operating officer, further clarified roles and functions in terms of political and administrative alignment, as well as the City’s macro organisational structure. Approximately 29 942 people are employed by the City of Joburg, making it a particularly large council.
And it has its challenges, one of which is congestion. “There are severe problems with spatial form,” Dumas said. “The concentration of people in the south and focus of new economic growth in the north makes the daily movement of people across the city difficult.”
The City tries to lessen the impact of its various challenges through its governance structure, which Dumas explained. The mayor leads the executive and is assisted by members of the mayoral committee, of which there are 10. “The mayor has delegated authority and powers to exercise executive powers and [mayoral committee members] have been delegated executive powers,” he said.
“Cluster mayoral sub-committees have been established where cross-cutting reports are discussed: sustainable services, human and social development, economic growth and governance,” he explained. “Cluster mayoral sub-committees provide political leadership, guidance and oversight.”
He also explained that the City manager was the head of administration and the accounting officer of the City, and was supported by an executive management team made up of heads of group functions and heads of line departments.
Speaker of council Constance Bapela and secretary to council Tshepiso Nage then shared the experiences of separating executive and legislative functions. “Our governance model is successful, but at the beginning we had to fight our own battles; it was not smooth sailing,” Bapela commented.
“The transition for administration was a big challenge, and we learnt there is a need to engage in a gradual transition.”
Nage noted that the change in governance models was a positive one for the City. The aim of separation of executive and legislative functions was to strengthen the role of the council and enhance its role in oversight; to increase public participation in council processes; and to ensure more meaningful debates.
“It is meant to facilitate executive accountability and oversight,” he said. This led to the creation of new political positions such as leader of executive business and chair of committees. “The new governance model was largely realised through delegations of authority to various office bearers and structures.”
Measures to increase executive accountability were also implemented in the council. These include mayor question time from councillors; questions for oral reply to the executive, which mayoral committee members answer; questions for written reply to the executive, where councillors ask questions in writing; and motions tabled for debate by councillors.
Since the implementation of the new governance model, the City council had processed 11 by-laws, four reports on its annual report, approximately 120 quarterly reports and 72 oversight visit reports, according to Nage.
Delegates from Mbombela appreciated the opportunity to learn and share experiences with Joburg, as their governance model implementing separation of powers was approved in 2011. The member of its mayoral committee for corporate services, Sibusiso Mathonsi, said: “Joburg is like a big brother to us.
“If you learn from the best, you practise the best, and we need the experience and expertise of Joburg.”
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