On 15 June 2007 the National Treasury published the Municipal regulations on Minimum Competency Levels in Government Gazette No. 29967 in terms of which six selected categories of municipal financial officials would have to achieve certain minimum competency levels via training and assessment by 31 December 2012. Municipal entity staff members must also comply with the requirements.
South Africa has a very powerful piece of legislation known as the Constitution. It is the supreme law of the country as all other legislation has to work within the boundaries of the Constitution. It consists of a Preamble, 14 Chapters and 7 Schedules.
The White Paper on Local Government was established in 1998. It is often referred to as the mini-constitution for local government, which is the sphere of government committed to working with citizens and communities. It was developed in response to the backdrop of South Africa’s historical past, especially in service delivery issues.
The White Paper encourages citizens and communities to find long term and sustainable ways to meet social, economic and material needs, together with improving the quality of lives of communities.
The White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery, 1997 is aimed at improving public service delivery in South Africa by means of improving efficiency and effectiveness in the way that services are delivered. For this to happen it is crucial that community consultation is embraced and practiced as communities are the end-users of the services delivered by government.
The Municipal Structures Act is responsible for setting the requirements that relate to the different categories and types of municipalities.
This Act provides the core principles, processes and mechanisms that municipalities need in order to realise developmental government and fulfil their objectives. Its main focus is therefore on the internal systems and administration of a municipality.
The MFMA was established to regulate:
• The municipal budgeting process and financial accounting
• Reporting and borrowing
It also gives the responsibilities of the mayors and officials that deal with financial management and the municipal budget process.
The Act stipulates that any citizen has the right to access any information or records of the municipality if done so in the interest of the broader public. When accessing this information, the correct channels and procedures have to be followed.
The Act intends to “give effect to the Constitutional right of access to any information held by the State and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”
The Property Rates Act regulates the levying of property rates by all municipalities. It affects properties that previously fell outside municipal boundaries.
The function of the Property Rates Act is:
1. To regulate the power of municipalities to impose rates on property
2. To exclude certain properties from rating in the national interest
3. To make provision for municipalities to implement a transparent and fair system of exemptions, reductions and rebates through their rating policies
4. To make provision for fair and equitable valuation methods of properties
5. To make provision for an objections and appeals process
The Demarcation Act provides the criteria and procedures in order to determine municipal boundaries. The Demarcation Board is an independent authority set up to perform this role.
Consideration can be given to the financial viability of an area, integration of racial divisions and alignment with provincial divisions among others before determining a local municipal boundary.
The IGR Act facilitates the coordination of implementing policy and legislation between national, provincial and local government, together with all organs of state within those governments. It promotes coherent government, effective provision of services, monitoring implementation of policy and legislation and realisation of national priorities.
The Revenue Act (enacted annually) provides for the ‘equitable division of revenue to be raised nationally among the national, provincial and local spheres of government.’ It is a budgeting instrument, which details how national revenue (collected through taxes) is shared amongst the spheres of government.
The revenue is used to support the implementation of the various government programmes. It is referred to as the ‘equitable share’ and at local government level is generally used to subsidise the costs of providing basic services to the poor.
The Organised Local Government Act was passed to give recognition to one national organisation representing the majority of the municipalities in each province, namely The South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
SALGA is the officially-recognised structure for local government to discuss and represent the concerns of its members.
The legislation states that the national organisation must:
• Be politically inclusive
• Be provincially representative
• Have a balance between urban and rural municipalities
The Administrative Justice Act provides for specific procedures, ensuring that any administrative action is ‘lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.’
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