What is the City Council and how does it work?
The City Council is the legislative body responsible for governing Cape Town. It makes and implements by-laws (local laws specially created for Cape Town) the Integrated Development Plan, tariffs for rates/services, the City’s Budget and enters into service level agreements. Besides this, the Council also debates local government issues and ratifies or rejects proposals, disposes of capital assets, appoints the Executive Mayor, the Executive Deputy Mayor and the City Manager.
Decisions taken by the City Council are implemented by the City’s executive management team.
By-laws and policies are formulated and monitored by Council's portfolio committees (otherwise known as ‘section 79’ committees). These meet regularly to discuss issues within their area of concern. One such example is the Spatial Planning, Environment & Land Use Management Committee (SPELUM), which oversees building regulations, environmental conservation and heritage issues, amongst others.
The City’s other portfolio committees are:
- Community Services
- Corporate Services
- Economic, Environmental and Spatial Planning
- Human Settlements
- Safety and Security
- Social Development and Early Childhood Development
- Tourism, Events and Marketing
- Transport, Roads and Stormwater
- Utility Services
These committees play an oversight role and are not delegated any decision-making powers. Portfolio committees are comprised of councillors, who also represent subcouncils.
Occasionally, Council also appoints ad hoc committees, working groups and task teams to manage a specific project or projects.
How is it made up?
The City Council comprises 221 councillors, half of who are ward councillors and the other half who are elected on the proportional representation list – according to their political party’s strength.
Click here to view the number of Council seats by political party.
Councillors provide a vital link between the communities they serve and the City. They are responsible for representing the needs and interests of the people they represent, regardless of whether they voted for them. Although councillors are not usually full time professionals, they are bound by a code of conduct.
The City Council serves for five years before being re-elected.
Who is the Speaker?
The Speaker is the chairperson of the City Council and presides over meetings. He or she is responsible for managing community participation in local government, particularly through the ward forums, by ensuring they function effectively.
What does the Chief Whip do?
The Chief Whip's role is to maintain cohesion within the governing party and to build relationships with other political parties. Other tasks include:
- making sure that each of the political parties are properly represented on the various committees
- maintaining sound relations between the various political parties
- attending to disputes between political parties
Where do I fit in?
To help you understand how you, the resident, fit into local government, we've created the visual guide below. Click on the box of your choice for further information. Note that this is not a flow chart, and is not meant to indicate reporting lines.