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Centre for Law in Action


Background of this project:

In line with the legislative mandate to support and strengthen the capacity of Municipalities, the Department of Local Government (DLG)  put together a range of training initiatives which are directed at all the newly elected Councillors in the Province.

The Department of Local Government in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Institute for Law in Action (ILA) of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) presented a post-induction training programme to Councillors in the Western Cape Province (WCP) after the 2011 elections. This programme was funded through an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The purpose of the MOU was to provide a framework whereby municipalities in the Province are supported with regard to matters associated with safety and security and good governance, which was signed on 26 November 2009.

Phase 1 of the training was the National Induction Programme for Councillors coordinated by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). 

The 2nd phase was facilitated  by NMMU and the Department of Local Government (DLG) of which the content had been developed by NMMU for 9 new accredited short learning programmes (SLPs).

A further phase 3 of training and information sessions was rolled-out to councillors and officials during 2012 and an additional module on the Roles and Responsibilities of Councillors and Officials was developed and facilitated by NMMU in partnership with DLG and HSF. 

In addition to this, a refresher training programme was rolled-out to capacitate councillors elected after 2012 and who hadn't been trained during 2011.

Start date of project:

01 January 2011

Objectives of this project:

The extension of the above-mentioned partnership for the planning and rolling-out of a similar programmed to capacitate newly elected municipal councillors within the WCP to be able to take up their roles of leadership in their communities post-election 2016.

Outcomes of this project:

  • Capacitated councillors post-election appointment
  • Improved participation and functioning of Caucus and Council meetings
  • Newly elected councillors without prior experience understand their roles and responsibilities better
  • More in-depth knowledge sharing than during the initial SALGA induction programme and covers additional information
  • Practical role-play and case studies included to contextualise content
  • Hand-outs serve as a reference tool for day-to-day functions of a councillor
  • Councillors and municipalities can benchmark best practises from each other
  • Improvement of work processes between Councillors and Officials are supported when the respective roles and responsibilities are clarified
  • Roles of Speakers and Mayors are clarified
  • Processes are linked to Integrated Development Planning and other key deliverables of municipalities
  • Better understanding of the MFMA, supply chain and the oversight role of Councils and the Municipal

Results to date:

  • During the Phase two roll-out between July - November 2011,  1481 training incidences were registered for councillors at the eleven training sites. 
  • During the Phase 3 roll-out in 2012, 973 councillors and officials were reached of which 231 councillors attended the accredited module presented by NMMU


The learning programme focused on specific aspects relating to the effective functioning of local government and was  particularly aimed at promoting good governance in Cacadu District Municipality

21 Councillors from Cacadu DM attended Councillor training at the NMMU Bird Street campus. The first contact session took place 22-26 July 2013 and was facilitated by Mr Koos Celliers and the second contact session took place 16-20 September and was facilitated by Mr Danie Nel.

Modules included:

  1. Rules of Procedure:  Conduct at Meetings of a Municipal Council
  2. Oversight in Local Government:  Guidelines for Councillors
  3. The Role of the Councillor in Supply Chain Management
  4. Delegation of Powers in Local Government
  5. The Constitutional Mandate of Local Government
  6. The law Governing Decisions & decision making
  7. Code of conduct: Procedures for Disciplinary Hearings
  8. Roles & responsibilities of councillors in terms of the MFMA
  9. Roles of the Speaker & Mayor in Local Government
  10. The Legal rules Governing the responsibilities of Political Structures & Office Bearers

See below comments from the Facilitator:

“The councillors enjoyed the subjects and keenly participated in debates that ensued. I must admit that the group was in all probability the most responsive I have encountered in a long time. They were keen to learn, inquisitive and challenged statements.

"They were at times rather surprised to learn of developments and outcomes in the interpretation of local government laws, policies and the result court judgments of which they were unaware. The councillors listened attentively, posed questions and regularly asked for further explanations where they encountered problems.  They particularly enjoyed the case law that I presented to them and they were eager to learn more about the interventions and interpretations by the courts.

"The discussion about the division of powers and between the 3 government spheres attracted their attention. In particular the question of unfunded mandates, concurrent powers and the interrelation between the three spheres. Councillors voiced their concern that their staff generally was not always informed of the matters which were discussed during the course.”

"Participants offered a number of reasons why they thought it was necessary for them as councillors to have a sound knowledge of the subject matters and the law pertaining thereto.

These included:

  • ensuring that meetings are conducted properly,
  • decisions are taken lawfully,
  • understanding oversight in order to introduce measures aimed at effective use of resources, preventing abuse of power, and
  • promoting transparent and accountable administration
  • being able to confidently debate with officials and other role-players in government on roles, responsibilities, powers mandates, IGR matters etc."