Plans by mayor Athol Trollip to have nine additional full-time councillors in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality will incur “huge unnecessary costs” – money that could be pumped into services.
This is according to Eastern Cape Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa, responding to Trollip’s request to establish Section 79 committees in the metro.
Trollip wants to strengthen oversight of senior managers and their political heads by appointing nine new chairpersons, not only to be in charge of portfolio meetings, but also to hold them accountable.
The nine would be chosen from the current crop of 120 councillors and they would, like members of the mayoral committee, work full-time.
All councillors, with the exception of the mayor, his deputy, the speaker, the mayoral committee and chairman of the public accounts committee are considered part-time councillors.
This means that they can hold other jobs.
When he announced his mayoral committee in August, Trollip said he wanted to ensure the new coalition was open to scrutiny and held to account.
While Xasa has not shot down Trollip’s request, he said in a letter to Trollip that should the mayor want to develop a model or mechanism to strengthen oversight of the executive, the municipality should submit the plan to him for his approval.
The MEC said: “You are also reminded that your municipality is currently in possession of 14 fulltime councillors and if I accede to your request, the municipality will incur huge unnecessary costs from your budget for remuneration of additional full-time councillors, instead of utilising the available budget for service delivery.”
But Trollip’s chief of staff, Kristoff Adelbert, said the coalition had saved the city R200-million in the first 100 days in office by cutting salaries, reducing the number of political posts and clamping down on unnecessary spending.
This made the new plan justifiable, Adelbert said. He added that Xasa’s response was unsatisfactory and that Trollip would respond and detail his proposed model of Section 79 committees.
“Section 80 of the Municipal Structures Act declares that the executive mayor ‘may delegate any powers and duties of the executive committee or executive mayor to the committee’.
“In this instance, oversight powers would be delegated to the Section 79/80 committees for the sole purpose of holding the executive to account, which is entirely in the interest of the residents and industries of this city,” Adelbert said.