The Koukamma Municipality together with the Municipal Demarcation board recently engaged in public consultations regarding the ward delimitation process. The Municipal Demarcation Board provided the municipality with draft ward plans. It requested municipalities to consult local stakeholders in an attempt to reach consensus as to whether the draft wards should be accepted or as to whether alternative proposals should be submitted to the Municipal Demarcation Board. On the 27th of January the board met with the municipality and local stakeholders to work through the draft ward maps and thus give the stakeholders an opportunity to indicate which draft wards are acceptable and to give stakeholders an opportunity to submit alternative proposals for consideration by the municipal demarcation board.
The scenario of Koukamma Municipality is that there are six wards and each ward must have more or less the same number of registered voters. The registered voters are those on the voters roll for the municipal segment of the national common voters’ roll as on 5 March 2014. The minimum number of registered voters allowed per ward in this municipality is 2768.
The maximum number of registered voters allowed per ward in this municipality is 3744.
The board further outlined the programme and timeframes of the process. After the public meetings, the Municipal Demarcation Board will consider all public proposals received before the 23rd March 2015 and delimit wards. The delimitations of wards will be published in Provincial Gazettes for objections. Any aggrieved person will have 14 days to object. The board will then consider all objections and publish its final decisions in Provincial Gazettes. The board will endeavour to provide the final ward boundaries to the IEC in August 2015 to start preparing for the 2016 local elections. The elections will be held between 18 May and 16 August 2016.
Generally the public of Koukamma were happy with the structure of wards in the Koukamma except for ward two which has a division between Tsitsikamma and Langkloof. The community of the same ward is divided by mountains and rivers which is contrary to the requirements of the municipal demarcation board. It was recommended by the stakeholders that Coldstream whom currently forms part of ward two in the Langkloof area be moved to ward six in the Tsitsikamma area.
The Mayor of Koukamma Municipality, Cllr Sam Vuso thanked the members of the board for coming to the municipality and sharing such information with the members of the public, he further thanked all public representatives who were present in the session as this is a matter that affects the people of Koukamma . “It is the first time in Koukamma to have a gathering of this nature,” he said.
After the visit by the demarcation board the Mayor embarked on a roads how to all wards of the municipality explaining the process of ward delimitations to the public.
The Municipal Dermacation board is an independent authority responsible for the determination of municipal boundaries. The Board status as an independent authority is also protected by section 3 of the Local Government Municipal Dermacation Act 1998 and various judgements by the Constitutional Court. In addition to the determinations of municipal boundaries, the Board is also mandated by legislation to declare the district management areas, to delimit wards for local elections; and to assess the capacity of municipalities to perform their functions.
Attending this public participation process were members of the municipal demarcation board, local councillors of the municipality, officials, community development workers, ward committee members and members of the public.