Now that elections are done and dusted, and results are pouring in, I wanted to take a step back and look at previous councillor performance, because how can we say our new councillors are doing a good job if we have nothing to compare them to?
Just before the 2016 local government elections, I decided to take a look at the meeting attendance records of the City of Cape Town councillors. The Council, and its sub-councils, meet monthly, with the exception of December, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
I found that 70% of councillors have missed at least one sub-council meeting over a period of one year. These meetings, although regular, also only happen once a month.
Using data from City’s Absence Report for June 2014 – June 2015 *, I analysed attendance at Council and sub-council meetings. My aim was to interrogate how councillors behaved outside of an election year. Do they attend meetings regularly? How often are they absent from meetings, and why?
Do our councillors care enough to attend regular meetings and if so many of them are missing nine, six, two or even one, then why?
Click here to see councillor attendance, at the City of Cape Town’s monthly Council meetings, in 2015.
The most interesting find, as I’ve already said, was that missing meetings seems to be something of the norm. There also appear to be multiple valid excuses for councillors to chose from. For example, there’s Mayor Patricia De Lille – of the Democratic Alliance (DA), who sits on Sub-council 20. She missed all six meetings for the second half of 2014.
Just as a short aside, sub-council duties and meetings are very important.
In order to judge whether or not a municipality, such as the City of Cape Town, is doing its job effectively, it needs to listen to what its residents say. It does this via its sub-councils. Meetings are held at least once a month and sometimes more, in the event of an urgent matter.
(Click here to see councillor attendance, at the City of Cape Town’s monthly sub-council meetings, from June 2014 – June 2015.)
It was also interesting to see that when it came to Council meetings, 40% of absence was attributed to “sick leave” in 2015, and 31% in 2014. The DA, the majority party, led the pack, with 54 of their councillors taking “sick leave” when Council meetings took place, followed by the African National Congress (ANC), with 43.
Although there are measures in place to prevent meeting absences from becoming problematic, according to South African Local Government Association spokesperson, Tahir Sema, in 2015, there was an increased trend of missing meetings. Only towards the end of the recorded period, June 2015, did the trend of taking “sick leave” decrease, slightly.
The councillors with the most absences reported for the first half of 2015 were:
Khayalethu Makeleni, ANC (4)
Mxolisi Mzalisi, ANC (4)
Abdulhamied Gabier, ANC (4)
Neliswa Ngqose, ANC (4)
Jacobus Krynauw, COPE (4)
*The report only records absenteeism by councillors who missed at least one meeting. Councillors who did not miss any meetings were not included in the report.
(This blog is merely an analysis of data (first requested by Rhodes University academic, Steve Kretzmann), and is intended as a resource for journalists to uncover stories.)