Municipal Systems Amendment Act 3 of 17 August 2022 makes the following amendments.
The key novelty of the Act prohibits all municipal employees from holding positions in political parties whether in a permanent, temporary or acting capacity, in particular:
- Position of chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary, deputy secretary or treasurer;
- Other elected or appointed managerial position in a political party whether at the national, provincial or local level;
- Any other equivalent position regardless of its formal name.
Once the Bill becomes law, municipal employees who hold these positions have a year to relinquish them.
However, some experts believe that control over the implementation of relevant requirements can be hampered by the lack of necessary human, time and financial resources to conduct verifications with regard to the compliance of all municipal employees with them, because the amendments do not define who will be responsible for these verifications.
Additionally, the norm creates a legal collision, as there is no such prohibition for the civil servants. This discrepancy can lead to certain problems in law enforcement: for example, it is unclear, how the norms will be enforced in a situation where a civil servant is seconded to a municipality.
Transparency of investigations
Under the South African law, members of a provincial Executive council (MECs) are entitled, in particular, to initiate investigations into activities of local government bodies if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the staff of these bodies is involved in offences, including corruption ones.
The Act obliges MECs to submit mandatory reports on the progress and outcome of these investigations to the legislative body of relevant provinces within 90 days from the appointment of the person responsible for the investigation; they must also submit copies of the reports to the minister of local government, minister of finance and the National Council of Provinces.
The Act also entitles local government bodies to initiate disciplinary procedures against persons mentioned in the reports provided that MECs and/or the minister of local government are informed of their outcome within 14 days from the conclusion of internal investigations.