The Municipal Systems Act, 32 of 2000

Section. 16 

1. A municipality must develop a culture of municipal governance that complements formal representative government with a system of participatory governance, and must for this purpose –

a) encourage, and create conditions for, the local community to participate in the affairs of the municipality, including in-

(i) the preparation, implementation and review of its Integrated Development Plan in terms of Chapter 5;
(ii) the establishment, implementation and review of its performance management system in terms of Chapter 6;
(iii) the monitoring and review of its performance, including the outcomes and impact of such performance;
(iv) the preparation of its budget; and
(v) strategic decisions relating to the provision of municipal services in terms of Chapter 8;

b)    contribute to building the capacity of –

(i) the local community [to enable it to participate in the affairs of the municipality; and
(ii) councillors and staff to foster community participation; and 

c) use its resources, and annually allocate funds in its budget, as may be appropriate for the purpose of implementing paragraphs (a) and (b).

Section 17.     Mechanisms, processes and procedures for community participation

1.Participation by the local community in the affairs of the municipality must take place through –

a) political structures for participation in terms of the Municipal Structures Act;
b) the mechanisms, processes and procedures for participation in municipal governance established in terms of this Act;
c) other appropriate mechanisms, processes and procedures established by the municipality;
d) councillors; and
e) generally applying the provisions for participation as provided for in this Act.

2.    A municipality must establish appropriate mechanisms, processes and procedures to enable the local community to participate in the affairs of the municipality, and must for this purpose provide for –

a )the receipt, processing and consideration of petitions and complaints lodged by members of the local community;
b) notification and public comment procedures, when appropriate;
c) public meetings and hearings by the municipal council and other political structures and political office bearers of the municipality, when appropriate;
d) consultative sessions with locally recognised community organisations and, where appropriate, traditional authorities; and
e) report-back to the local community.

3.    When establishing mechanisms, processes and procedures in terms of subsection (2) the municipality must take into account the special needs of –

a) people who cannot read or write;
b) people with disabilities;
c) women; and
d) other disadvantaged groups.

4.    A municipal council may establish one or more advisory committees consisting of persons who are not councillors to advise the council on any matter within the council’s competence. When appointing the members of such a committee, gender representivity must be taken into account.

Section 18.   Communication of information concerning community participation

1. A municipality must communicate to its community information concerning –

a) the available mechanisms, processes and procedures to encourage and facilitate community participation;
b) the matters with regard to which community participation is encouraged;
c) the rights and duties of members of the local community; and
d) municipal governance, management and development.

2.    When communicating the information mentioned in subsection (1), a municipality must take into account –

a )language preferences and usage in the municipality; and
b) the special needs of people who cannot read or write.

Section 19.  Public notice of meetings of municipal councils

The municipal manager of a municipality must give notice to the public, in a manner determined by the municipal council, of the time, date and venue of every-

c )ordinary meeting of the council; and
a) special or urgent meeting of the council, except when time constraints make this impossible.

Section 20.  Admission of public to meetings

1.Meetings of a municipal council and those of its committees are open to the public, including the media, and the council or such committee may not exclude the public, including the media, from a meeting, except when –

a) it is reasonable to do so having regard to the nature of the business being transacted; and
b) a by-law or a resolution of the council specifying the circumstances in which the council or such committee may close a meeting and which complies with paragraph (a), authorises the council or such committee to close the meeting to the public.

2.    A municipal council, or a committee of the council, may not exclude the public, including the media, when considering or voting on any of the following matters:

a) A draft by-law tabled in the council;
b) a budget tabled in the council;
c) the municipality’s draft integrated development plan, or any amendment of the plan, tabled in the council;
d )the municipality’s draft performance management system, or any amendment of the system, tabled in the council;
e) the decision to enter into a service delivery agreement referred to in section 76 (b); or
f) any other matter prescribed by regulation.

3.    An executive committee mentioned in section 42 of the Municipal Structures Act and a mayoral committee mentioned in section 60 of that Act may, subject to subsection (1) (a), close any or all of its meetings to the public, including the media.
4.    A municipal council –

a) within the financial and administrative capacity of the municipality, must provide space for the public in the chambers and places where the council and its committees meet; and
b) may take reasonable steps to regulate public access to, and public conduct at, meetings of the council and its committees.

Section 21.  Communications to local community

1.   When anything must be notified by a municipality through the media to the local community in terms of this Act or any other applicable legislation, it must be done –

a) in the local newspaper or newspapers of its area;
b) in a newspaper or newspapers circulating in its area and determined by the council as a newspaper of record; or
c) by means of radio broadcasts covering the area of the municipality.

2.    Any such notification must be in the official languages determined by the council, having regard to language preferences and usage within its area.
3.    A copy of every notice that must be published in the Provincial Gazette or the media in terms of this Act or any other applicable legislation, must be displayed at the municipal offices.
4.    When the municipality invites the local community to submit written comments or representations on any matter before the council, it must be stated in the invitation that any person who cannot write may come during office hours to a place where a staff member of the municipality named in the invitation, will assist that person to transcribe that person’s comments or representations.
5. 

a) When a municipality requires a form to be completed by a member of the local community, a staff member of the municipality must give reasonable assistance to persons who cannot read or write, to enable such persons to understand and complete the form.
b) If the form relates to the payment of money to the municipality or to the provision of any service, the assistance must include an explanation of its terms and conditions.

Section 21 (a)  Documents to be made public

1.    All documents that must be made public by a municipality in terms of a requirement of this Act, the Municipal Finance Management Act or other applicable legislation, must be conveyed to the local community –

a) by displaying the documents at the municipality’s head and satellite offices and libraries;
b) by displaying the documents on the municipality’s official website, if the municipality has a website as envisaged by section 21B; and
c) by notifying the local community, in accordance with section 21, of the place, including the website address, where detailed particulars concerning the documents can be obtained.

2.    If appropriate, any notification in terms of subsection (1) (c) must invite the local community to submit written comments or representations to the municipality in respect of the relevant documents.

Section 21 (b)  Official website

1. Each municipality must –

a) establish its own official website if the municipality decides that it is affordable; and
b) place on that official website information required to be made public in terms of this Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act.

2.    If a municipality decides that it is not affordable for it to establish its own official website, it must provide the information in terms of legislation referred to in subsection (1)(b) for display on an organised local government website sponsored or facilitated by the National Treasury.
3.    The municipal manager must maintain and regularly update the municipality’s official website, if in existence, or provide the relevant information as required by subsection (2).

Section 42.     Community involvement

A municipality, through appropriate mechanisms, processes and procedures established in terms of Chapter 4, must involve the local community in the development, implementation and review of the municipality’s performance management system, and, in particular, allow the community to participate in the setting of appropriate key performance indicators and performance targets for the municipality.

The Municipal Systems Act, 2000, especially chapter 6, establishes the legal framework for performance management in municipalities. According the Act, all municipalities should: 

  • Develop a performance management system 
  • Set targets, monitor and review performance based on indicators linked to their IDP
  • Publish an annual report on performance for the councillors, staff, the public and other spheres of government 
  • Incorporate and report on a set of general indicators prescribed nationally by the minister responsible for local government 
  • Conduct an internal audit on performance before tabling the report 
  • Involve the community in setting indicators and targets and reviewing municipal performance.