eastern capeCouncil must work for you

Tilting the focus of municipal governance towards post-apartheid transformation, it says councils must give priority to the basic needs of communities and demands the highest level of consultation and openness in decision .

Every council must develop a blueprint known as an "integrated development plan", based on broad public consultation, that spells out the vision, the path towards it and the options for financing it.

Education and public transport belong largely to the provinces, though municipalities that try to do more, rather than less, do have important roles to play in them safe, efficient and comfortable and can build partnerships to deliver better train and bus services.

eastern capeCouncil must work for you,Whereas nearly eight of 10 registered voters went to the polls in the 2009 national election, fewer than half turned out for the 2006 municipal poll, with the lowest showing in Gauteng and the highest in Eastern Cape.

Though councils do manage housing waiting lists, they have little say over what will be built where and when until they prove their project management capacity, which five metros and two district councils have so r done.

But many do directly influence how people experience life in Sandton, Soweto or a shack in someone elses back yard. Life is very different when you do or dont have safe water, efficient sanitation, reliable electricity, good suburban and township roads, and the regular collection and disposal of household rubbish.

Brendan Boyle Local government elections typically draw a much smaller share of the electorate than national polls, which is strange because the quality of municipal government can affect daily life more directly than the decisions of a national parliament. It can also make or break a local economy.

The various kinds of municipal councils described in last weeks column have similar powers, which are defined firstly in the constitution and its fourth schedule, but also by the Municipal Systems Act and the Municipal Structures Act, which you can read in the document archive on the politics page of the TimesLIVE website.

The Municipal Systems Act adds: "The council of a municipality has the right to govern, on its own initiative, the local government afirs of the local community; and to exercise the municipalitys executive and legislative authority without interference."

Elect a council on May 18 that will be there for you and not just because of you.

Some of the matters over which councils have exclusive authority sound trivial, such as billboards, dog licensing and control of public nuisances. Others, like disposing of the dead, are important only when you need them.

The main role of municipal councils cited in the constitution is "to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner, to promote social and economic development, to promote a safe and healthy environment and to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government".

Also still contested is the municipal role in policing. Metros such as Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town run their own local police services, which have contributed significantly to public safety, but there is still a possibility that this power will be taken away by the central government.

Apart from deciding who will run your life for the next five years, local elections are also a reliable barometer of public sentiment for governments – including the DA in Western Cape. If a wareastern capeCouncil must work for youd candidate, whose name and ce are on the ballot , does significantly better or worse than the proportional vote for his party in the same area, voters are sending a more specific message than they can with a single national vote for or against everything a government does in their name.

Local authorities contribute to health by ensuring regulation and cleanliness where people gather to eat, drink and play, but they largely lost responsibility for primary healthcare to the provinces in a still-contested 2005 decision that has muddled the construction and delivery of clinics.

Apart from their obvious mandate to improve and maintain the space in which you live and work, a council that cares can seize the initiative to create conditions for economic growth that outstrips the national average. Cape Towns International Convention Centre, which pumps billions into the citys economy every year, is an initiative of a council that has seen eastern cape healthpolitical control flip back and forth between the ANC and the DA throughout its existence.

Municipalities cannot do anything directly about our stance at the UN on Libya or Burma, about monetary or fiscal policy or whether President Jacob Zuma gets the two Boeing 767 aircraft that the minister of defence wants to buy for him.

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