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[OPINION] South Africa has an alternative to coalitions for local government

9 November 2021 2:23 PM
Tags:
Local government
Coalitions
Michael Evans

Coalitions are entirely unnecessary argues partner at Webber Wentzel Michael Evans speaking to Pippa Hudson on Tuesday.
  • Lawyer Michael Evans explains that there is an alternative to the executive mayoral system according to the Municipal Structures Act
  • The second option is called a collective executive system he explains
  • This alternative would depoliticise local government and allow it to focus on service delivery
  • Evans acknowledges that in municipalities where one party has a clear majority it is unlikely to opt for this system as parties prefer holding onto power

City of Cape Town. © petertt/123rf.com

Following the local government election, the focus now is on the potential coalitions. In numerous municipalities, including five of the metropolitan municipalities, no party was able to achieve more than 50%, thus triggering an intense and potentially heated negotiation with regard to possible coalition governments at a local level.

But, coalitions at local government level can be avoided, says Michael Evans, partner at Webber Wentzel.

There is an alternative he writes in an Op-Ed piece in the Daily Maverick.

Coalitions are entirely unnecessary he argues, speaking to Pippa Hudson on Tuesday.

In fact, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act provides for two types of government at a municipal level.

One is the familiar executive mayoral system most municipalities follow with a very powerful executive mayor.

But there is a second option called a collective executive system. Evans says he has always felt this second option is a better system for local government even without the coalition issue.

My view, and many people's view, is that local government should really be depoliticised and they should be focusing exclusively on one issue and that is service delivery - water, electricity, waste and to a certain extent housing.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

The more we can depoliticise local government the better.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

When we focus on the metros that have not got a majority party any longer it becomes even more of a viable option because you can have what's called a collective executive system. It's a very simple step. They just have to get the provincial minister of local government to make the necessary determination.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

The municipality would then be governed by the executive committee and not the executive mayor he explains.

That executive committee then is made up on a pro-rate, on a proportional basis. You can have an alternative but it has to be made up of a fair representation of political parties.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

The different parties are then forced to work together, and meet together, and find commonalities within that executive committee.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

We have seen so many executive mayors with massive egos, with an inclination towards corruption.

Michael Evans, Partner - Webber Wentzel

Evans acknowledges that in municipalities where one party has a clear majority it is unlikely to opt for this system as parties prefer holding onto power.




9 November 2021 2:23 PM
Tags:
Local government
Coalitions
Michael Evans

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