Editorial | Councillors must take jobs seriously

A year ago, ANC councillor Andile Lungisa was called out for bunking committee meetings without formal apologies.

At the time, Lungisa flippantly told this newspaper: “I’m not the Holy Spirit. I can’t be everywhere at the same time.”

He said the meetings clashed with his ANC meetings and there were other capable councillors from the ANC who attended the standing committee meetings.

We report today that his pattern of not attending meetings continued throughout the 2016-17 year.

The metro’s annual report records a 0% attendance record for Lungisa. A few other councillors, across party lines, only attended half the meetings they were required to.

To say that the report is shocking is an understatement considering that the very essence of their jobs is to attend such meetings.

As public representatives, they are meant to be the voices of the people who voted them into public office. They are at the coalface of service delivery and making a difference in people’s lives.
With a pay packet of about R34 000 a month for ward and PR councillors, the least they can do is attend the committee meetings they are assigned to, which are generally held every six or seven weeks.

This not only ensures that municipal officials are held to account, but it also adds a broad range of voices to the bread-and-butter issues that confront communities daily.

The council rules state that if a councillor misses three consecutive meetings without an apology, he should be relieved of his duties.

But, ultimately, it is the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xasa who has the final say, based on a report from the council speaker.

Whether or not Xasa would have the political appetite to relieve Lungisa, who carries significant political clout in the province, of his duties is another issue altogether.

It is, however, critical that all public representatives take their jobs seriously.

Failure to do so is, as speaker Jonathan Lawack says, tantamount to giving all the voters the middle finger.