More wards ahead of local govt elections

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pretoria - The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) has increased the number of municipal wards across the country for the 2011 local government elections.

This year ward delimitation also constitutes a watershed in the history of local government since all municipalities will have wards with the minimum of four and maximum of 130 wards.

MDB chairperson, Landiwe Mahlangu handed over the final municipal wards to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Wednesday so that they can proceed with the preparations of next year's local government elections.

"For the first time over 10 000 council seats which includes 4277 wards will be contested in eight metropolitan councils, 45 districts and 231 local municipalities," he said.

Mahlangu said when drawing the boundaries of wards a deviation from the norm is allowed. However, the number of registered voters in each ward may not vary by more than 15 percent from the norm.

He said the handover of the municipal wards to the IEC follows an intensive process of drafting, consultations with communities, stakeholders, consideration of objections and confirmation of ward boundaries over the last ten months.

IEC chairperson Brigalia Bam thanked the MDB for embarking on an inclusive consultative process regarding the new wards boundaries.

"Municipal wards are crucial units of our democracy because they serve as core of ward based development apart of being regarded as units that holds the electorate more accountable to the people.

"As the IEC, we are ready to and prepared to do what is expected from us," she said.

The term for the current municipal councils expires on 2 March 2011 and elections must be held within 90 days from this date. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka is expected to announce the date for the next local government elections in due course.

Municipal elections are held every five years, and the previous municipal elections were held in 2006.

The 2011 local government election will be the third since municipal governments were reorganised on a non-racial basis in the wake of the dismantling of apartheid.

The first municipal elections following the reorganisation of municipalities took place in December 2000.

The 2011 municipal elections will elect members of the district, metropolitan and local municipal councils, who, in turn, will elect the mayors of the municipalities to office.