The Local Government Municipal structures Acts Provides that each Municipal Council must have a Chairperson who is called the Speaker. The speaker is elected by the council from among the councilors at the first sitting of the council after the local government elections.
The speaker acts as a chairperson at the council meetings, and ensures the compliance of the council code of conduct rules and orders. He or she also ensures the proper functioning of the legislative side of the council, and it is required to be impartial. The Speaker also ensures community participation in legislative initiatives and should communicate with the public on the performance of the Council. The speaker has ex officio sitting in all committees of the council, with no voting rights.
The Speaker of Council is elected by Council at its first meeting after its election. The Speaker is a full time councillor. The functions of the Speaker are set out in Section 37 of the Municipal Structures Act as follows:
- presides at meetings of the Council;
- performs the duties and exercises the powers delegated to the speaker by the Council
- must ensure that the council meets at least quarterly;
- must maintain order during meetings;
- must ensure compliance in the council and council committees with the Code of Conduct for Councillors as set out in Schedule 1 of the Municipal Systems Act ; and
- must ensure that council meetings are conducted in accordance with the rules and orders of the council.
In addition to the statutory functions listed the office of the speaker is also responsible for the functions listed hereunder:
- encouraging participation of communities and community organisations in the decision making process of the municipality
- developing mechanisms to ensure and monitor participation of communities in the decision making process;
- ensuring that communities and community organizations are educated on their rights and responsibilities to participate and give input to the municipality’s policy development processes as well as planning and budget processes;