In spite of earning massive salaries, Sol Plaatje Municipality councillors have only met once this year.

WHILE city residents are paying more than R27 million a year in salaries for the city’s 65 councillors, most council committees have only met once so far this year.

The city has recently been upgraded to a category 5 municipality (based on the total population and the municipal income) which means that the executive mayor now receives a total remuneration package of R921 912 a year while the Speaker receives R737 529 per annum (all inclusive) and the 10 members of the Mayoral Committee each receive R691 433.

These packages exclude cellphone allowances and mobile data cards.

Part-time councillors receive total remuneration packages of R288 998 per annum.

The increases were backdated to July 1 2016 and the back pay was paid out in February.

Despite the massive salaries, however, most council committees have repeatedly had meetings postponed this year and have only met once in the four months between January and April.

Committee meetings should be held once a month, although some committees did not have a meeting scheduled for January.

Committees that have only met once in the last four months include the Community Services Committee, which met in April after the February meeting was cancelled and there was no quorum in March; the Corporate and Human Resources Committee, which also met in April as there was no quorum in January, February’s meeting was postponed and no meeting was scheduled for March; Finance, which only met in March; the IDP Budget and Performance Committee, which only met in February, and Spelum, which met in February.

The Utility Committee last met in December, after February’s meeting was postponed, there was no quorum for the two meetings scheduled in March, and April’s meeting was also postponed. The committee deals with the infrastructure of electricity, water and sanitation and solid waste.

The Municipal Public Accounts (Mpac) Committee has also only met for presentations and last took decisions in November last year. Five meetings could not take place as there was not a quorum

The Intergovernmental, International Relations Committee has not met at all this year.

With the need to establish ward committees, the council’s Ward Participation Committee has met on a number of occasions, including one in February and three times in March. One meeting in March, however, could not take place as there was no quorum, while the April meeting was postponed.

The full council met in January, twice in February, five times in March (including two informal meetings) and twice in April. Only one meeting could not take place due to insufficient members attending to form a quorum.

This month, several committee meetings have also been postponed due to members attending the ANC’s provincial elective conference this week.

Meetings that have been postponed include Mpac, which means the committee has not taken a decision in the last five months, the Economic Development, Urban Renewal and Tourism Committee (which is one of the only committees that has met three times this year) and the Intergovernmental, International Relations Committee, as well as the Community Services Committee.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesman, Sello Matsie, confirmed yesterday that some committees had not met as scheduled, while others were essentially dysfunctional as a result.

“Discussions have been held with the relevant stakeholders, including the chief whips of the various political parties, to address this,” said Matsie.

He confirmed that committee meetings not sitting regularly did affect service delivery.

“This is especially true of some committees, like Spelum, which deals with matters of rezoning and subdivision. This in turn, could affect development, as well as cause the city to lose income.”

Matsie said, however, that the matter would be addressed.

“We hope to have fuller engagements to ensure that the municipality is not crippled by committees that are unable to sit, due to the non-attendance of members.”