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​Most ward committee elections were successful, with the City congratulating people on their participation. Some wards will hold re-elections.
WARD committee elections were a runaway success, with a large number of voting stations declaring their results on time.

Council Speaker Constance Bapela (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Council Speaker Constance Bapela (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Elections were held on 14 April, and their success was largely attributed to the new electoral system – an election by ballot as opposed to the old way of a show of hands. The system, adopted by the Joburg council in December 2011, upholds many of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) principles of free and fair elections.

It allows people an equal opportunity to nominate themselves or propose other candidates to be nominated. Ward committees enhance participatory democracy and are established under the requirements of the Local Government Municipal Structures Act.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, 25 April at the Metro Centre, the Speaker of the council, Constance Bapela, said Joburg was the first municipality to employ processes similar to those of the IEC in ward committee elections.

Also at the briefing was the Chief Whip of the council, Prema Naidoo; the council secretary, Tshepiso Nage; and the deputy secretary for community participation and ward committees, Pat Nhlapo.

Elections were held in all 130 Joburg wards, 99 of which had successfully declared results when voting stations closed. “This represents a 76 percent success rate, and we wish to thank all the staff and residents who participated,” said Bapela.

Naidoo was equally satisfied with the outcome of the elections. He thanked residents for participating, saying the positive voter turnout showed the commitment of communities. “Our intention is to deepen democracy and to give some kind of support to the ward councillors, so they do not work in isolation, and for them to understand the needs of the community,” said Naidoo.

Region E, which encompasses Alexandra, Wynburg, Marlboro and Sandton recorded a 100 percent success rate. Of the 3 922 nominations received, 3 486 complied with the requirements and contested the elections across 10 ward committee sectors.

They included finance, housing, transport, public safety, development planning and urban management, infrastructure services, community development and health and human development. Because of its complexity, community development was divided into two, including sports, culture, libraries and theatre, City Parks and Joburg Zoo.

Health and human development was also split, with one division taking care of the needs of the youth, women and children and another advocating for faith-based groups, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.

Some wards, however, threw up challenges, including a delay in voting stations, late delivery of ballot papers, and candidates who did not comply with the requirements. Affected wards were in regions A, B, C, D, F and G.

Nage said there would be re-elections in these wards, though the date still had to be confirmed by the council. For re-elections, current nominations would be used, but would be verified first. In total, 31 wards will hold re-elections as no credible results were received. After the results have been announced, there will be seven days to deal with objections.

The City will intensify publicity campaigns to ensure that people participate in great numbers. This will include ads on radio and in community newspapers. A series of civic education programmes will also be rolled out to inform people about ward committee elections and what the committees do.

To stand for election to a ward committee, the candidate must be a permanent resident of the ward, be in possession of a green barcoded South African identify document, must not owe the municipality any rate taxes and must be a community activist, according to Nhlapo.

Ward committee members will get a R500 stipend to cover travel expenses to get to committee meetings and make phone calls.

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