What is the Role of a Municipal Councillor?

This video explains the different types and duties of municipal councillors, namely ward councillors and proportional representative councillors. This video is part of the Civics Academy Local Government Series. In these videos we explore how local government functions and how we, as responsive citizens, can engage it. This video is also available in Afrikaans and IsiXhosa.

All municipalities except for District municipalities are divided into wards. There are two types of councillors: ward and PR councillors. A ward councillor represents a specific ward on the municipal council and is elected through the “first past the post system” in which the candidate that receives the most votes wins. Ward councillors are the chairperson of their ward committees and must give special attention to their wards.

Proportional Representative councillors represents a political party on the municipal council and are elected through the system of “proportional representation”. In this system the political party nominates its candidates on the party list. The number of votes a party receives determines the number of candidates a political party will have.

The duties of a councillor are to:

  • represent the people in the municipality and cooperate with other councillors in the best interest of the community;
  • communicate the needs of the community to the municipal council and the council processes to the community;
  • prepare and attend meetings unless they have a special leave of absence;
  • monitor the performance of the municipality;
  • raise issues of concern with the relevant bodies and provide feedback on the municipality’s performance;
  • follow the code of conduct which includes not disclosing information to people that can unfairly benefit from it.

Municipal councillors can be held accountable through:

  • Elections – voting for someone else or different party
  • Party political meetings
  • Participation meetings
  • Personal contact
  • Enforcement of the code of conduct.
  • Letters, petitions and media
  • Peaceful protest

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