The local government arena is largely regulated for through the following key pieces of legislation. Brief summaries of these pieces of legislation are provided below. The relevant sections of the legislation will be discussed in further detail in the text of the document.
Chapter Seven of the Constitution deals with Local Government and embodies the core principles that inform the basis for developmental local government in South Africa. Section 152 of the Constitution sets out the overall objectives of local government
The Local Government Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998 (hereinafter referred to as the Structures Act) provides for the establishment of a new generation of municipalities and essentially lays the foundation for a new system of local government in South Africa.
Essentially, the Structures Act gives flesh to the categories of municipalities identified in the Constitution and goes on to define the different types of municipalities that can be established within each category.
The Structures Act also divides the powers and functions between the categories of municipalities and regulates matters connected with local government its systems and structures.
The Structures Act deals fairly extensively with the Municipal Council and provides for issues such as the election, removal from office of councillors, and the internal proceedings in and the dissolution of the Council.
The Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000 (“the Systems Act”) defines the legal nature of a municipality and provides for the manner in which municipal powers and functions are exercised and performed. In addition, the Systems Act provides the framework for local public administration.
The Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003 (MFMA) is intended to ensure sound and sustainable financial management in municipalities and deepens the budgetary process in municipalities by making community involvement compulsory. The MFMA will be phased in from the 1st of July 2004.
One of the most important objectives of the MFMA is that of developing sound financial governance within every municipality. This means developing a comprehensive system clarifying and separating the responsibilities of mayors, councillors and officials.
The MFMA read together with the Systems and the Structures Act provide clear guidance on the roles and responsibilities of councillors and officials.
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