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Understanding Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2024: Key provisions and impact on coalition politics

Azra Hoosen | ah@radioislam.co.za
28 May 2024 | 14:30 CAT
2 min read

The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2024, recently gazetted by the Department of Cooperative Governance in South Africa, aims to address coalition politics in municipalities. Key provisions include a 1% vote threshold for council seats, mandatory coalition agreements, and revised no-confidence vote procedures.

Independent election analyst Michael Atkins discussed the critical developments in an interview with Radio Islam.

Atkins explained that the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill includes both constructive and problematic proposals. Key changes include limiting votes of no confidence and requiring municipalities without an outright majority to switch from an executive mayor system to a mayoral committee.
“This will change the composition of the MMC (members of the mayoral committee) in any municipality,” he said.

While it aims to streamline council compositions by eliminating smaller parties, it disproportionately benefits the largest party in each municipality.
“If you look at the major parties, the DA has been largely favourable to these principles up till now. The smaller parties are obviously not going to be impressed at being excluded,” he added.

The Bill aims to promote stability in local governments, but its effectiveness is debatable.
“If the problem is jostling for power among all parties, the threshold doesn’t necessarily remove the underlying problem,” said Atkins.

There will likely be strong civil society opposition to the Bill, as Atkins believes that, although it may pass through Parliament, it will face significant resistance and potential legal challenges.

The Bill mandates written coalition agreements and aims to prevent manipulation by less represented parties. Key changes include making it harder to remove executive mayors, speakers, and chief whips and raising the vote threshold for political parties to gain council representation. The Bill also mandates that elections and removals of municipal office bearers be conducted by a show of hands instead of a secret ballot.

Public input is invited until 5 July 2024, with submissions to comments.coalitionbill@cogta.gov.za or comments can also be posted to the department’s Director-General Nhlamulo Mathye, Department of Cooperative Governance, Private Bag X804, PRETORIA, 0001.

LISTEN to the full interview with Ml Sulaimaan Ravat and election analyst Michael Atkins, here.

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