News24 readers react on ward councillors

2015-07-09 09:17
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Johannesburg - The majority of News24 readers, who answered an online questionnaire, do not know who their ward councillor is, nor do they think they are doing a good job.

This followed a series of articles published by News24 on what a typical day looks like in the life of a ward councillor.

We randomly picked five councillors from different political parties and followed them around in five different cities - Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein and Pietermaritzburg.

This is ahead of next year's local government elections where the biggest fight is going to be for the country's metros.

News24 readers were asked four questions, which were answered by 3 120 people.

Of the 3 120, 2 010 readers said they did not know who their ward councillor was.

One reader commented saying: "Don't even know my councillor's name...".

While another said: "Don't know him/her can't comment. But really would like to engage."

Some readers said the fact that they did not know their ward councillor was proof that he or she was not doing a good job.

Readers were also asked if their ward councillor had ever helped to solve municipal problems.

Again majority of those who answered the questionnaire, 2 473, said no, while 466 said yes. A total of 181 readers did not answer the question.

Some readers gave their account of how active or inactive their councillor had been.

"Where they want to increase water by 90%, electricity by 35%, sewerage by 35% and refuse removal by 90%.

"For years on a weekly basis we don't have water for a couple of days, [that is when the going is good - if not we don't have water for weeks]. Send people to come and talk the residents, all of us across all races and hear horror stories.

"The municipality works on a reported deficit of two million per month, but we don't have services, we don't have water. The after hours complaints number is seldom answered. Our councillors should pay us instead of earning a salary."

Another reader said their councillor Beverley van Reenen from Ward 25 in Cape Town was hard working and diligent.

"At times she forwards service delivery requests during the wee hours. Her ward includes part of Ravensmead, Uitsig and Cravenby. Part of Connaught Estate included. The area is beset by gang violence and she has to pick up the pieces by arranging alternative accommodation for those whose homes are petrol-bombed etc."

Unhappy residents

A reader from Diepsloot said he was not happy with his ward councillor.

"I am staying in an informal settlement in Diepsloot ward 113 Joburg municipality and our relationship with our counsellor is not convenient at all as we are on two years now without any meeting with him and are having a lot of challenges which we wish we can raise …”

A reader who lives in Protea Glen, Soweto complained that he had never met his councillor.

"He is never around when we have meetings in our area. We are faced with illegal littering in our area, have raised this with his office and till today he hasn't done anything to assist us. We also have an issue with illegal electricity connection, we have raised this with office, again he didn't pitch to address our issue.

"We the affected residents, took it upon ourselves to hire an Eskom employee to fix the issue by cutting the illegally connected houses. In short, my councillor is never around, again, I have never met him."

Another reader in Durban was also not happy with their ward councillor.

"Ward councillor in Newlands West , Durban is useless. Just two examples of non-delivery. Two years ago we informed him in a meeting about overgrown bushes in the Castlehill Road area , and thinking of putting speed humps in the same road, due to speeding taxis , people getting knocked , to date nothing has been done.

"Three years ago, I contacted him personally to inform about Telkom cable theft and non-working phones, he mentioned he has the same problem. That was it... He does not come around to query. All he does is hold community meetings now and then, but guess what, nothing gets done. Meeting is just a smoke screen. Crime has escalated tenfold in the area in all forms."

The SA Local Government Association, which represents thousands of councillors across the country, recently called for greater equality between the payment of municipal councillors, MPs and MPLs. This could mean that your local councillor could earn around R1.3m a year.

Readers were asked if they thought councillors deserved a R1.3m salary a year, about the same as what an MP earns.

Being paid too much

Again the majority, 2 716 out of 3 120, said no, and were quite outspoken about how public servants were already, in their opinion, being paid too much.

"R1.3m is a huge salary, even for the productive ones. It is simply too much. Our civil servants are already paid in the region of 40% more than the private sector. SA can't afford its civil service and the unproductivity that typifies it," said a reader.

Another reader said that although ward councillors worked incredibly hard it did not mean they should get the same salary as a MP.

"A MP has to travel between Cape Town and his/her constituency, work in a constituency that has more than one ward and then still dedicate time to his/her portfolio in Parliament."

Another reader said they believed all government officials from the president to a ward councillor should receive a "minimal stipend".

"It is a privilege to serve," the reader said.

"Of course none of those doing the above would volunteer to do this, it is all about the money."

Someone else said ward councillors should be treated like any other public servant and should be paid according to their experience and education level.

While another reader felt MPs themselves were already paid too much.

"MPs shouldn't earn R1.3m. Some are doing a good job, some aren't. Those who do should earn a reasonable salary but not R1.3m. Maybe 400K."

Read more on:    local government  |  politics  |  service delivery

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