How Joburg’s city council works

The City of Johannesburg is one of eight metropolitan local government municipalities in South Africa.

Of all the metros, it has the largest annual budget serving close to five million people.

It might not be unusual to think that the City’s inner workings are not very straightforward but we’ll try and explain anyway.

The City of Johannesburg metropolitan municipality covers a big area from Orange Farm to Diepsloot. Photo: File

Ultimately, the city council is a public servant, either elected by voters or appointed by the administration to deliver services.

These services include cutting grass, maintaining infrastructure, building new infrastructure, managing an annual budget, and consulting the public about how that budget should be spent. Electricity, water, sanitation, fire fighting, clinics, libraries and parks are also some of the services provided by the municipality.

Services are delivered through structures in place to ensure that the municipality functions according to the needs of its residents.

Related article: Get involved in your ward – here’s how!

Through local government elections, held every five years, councillors are elected. Councillors form part of the municipality’s leadership which includes the speaker, chief whip and mayor. This leadership appoints a mayoral committee which oversees the City’s departments and entities.

A municipal manager oversees the City’s 12 utilities which include Johannesburg Water and City Power. Even though the municipal manager falls under the mayor, he or she continues to head the administrative side of the municipality.

Ward councillors have the most interaction with residents. Each of the 135 wards in the city is represented by an elected ward councillor. Ward councillors belong to different political parties. The elected councillors vote on who the mayor, chief whip and speaker will be. These three positions can also be people from different political parties but in Joburg, Democratic Alliance members fill these roles for the first time.

Each political party that received a seat in the city council represents the voters that voted them in. This term, the Economic Freedom Fighters, various smaller parties and the Democratic Alliance have formed a coalition government in opposition to the African National Congress.

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