Petition Bylaw Reform in the City of Johannesburg

The City of Johannesburg Petition Bylaw Reform Campaign is an unprecedented campaign created by the Auwal Socio Economic Research Institute (ASRI) to enact and legislate a more direct democracy by way of petition bylaw reform. The campaign began on 18 May 2016.

IntroductionEdit

Currently (2016), in the City of Johannesburg, all petitions are dealt with according to the same procedures, regardless of the number of signatures accumulated. There is no mechanism by which citizens can access previously lodged petitions and their outcomes in order to know whether their requests have already been considered. Ultimately, the perceived inadequacy of the petition process creates a disconnection between the people and their government. With the ongoing campaign, ASRI seeks to improve public access to direct democracy. If the Petition By-Law is adopted in the City of Johannesburg, a nationally revered precedent and mechanism for residents to resolve urgent grievances through effective democratic processes will be created.

Details of the BylawEdit

(a) recognise the lack of a standardised process for petitioning within the City of Johannesburg

(b) recognise the lack of standardised information about drafting and submitting petitions within the City of Johannesburg

(c) recognise the potential subjectivity of a petition officer in deciding upon the validity of petition matters, as well as to avoid any potential bias

(d) acknowledge that the City of Johannesburg is dealing with a backlog in responding to and acting on petitions

(e) ensure compliance within the City of Johannesburg with the Gauteng Petition Act No. 5 of 2002 [1]

(f) provide a standardised, transparent and efficient procedure for petitioning in the City of Johannesburg

DefinitionsEdit

  • "signatory" means a resident of the City of Johannesburg over the age of 18
  • "minor signatory" means a resident of the City of Johannesburg under the age of 18 who has an interest in the subject matter of the petition
  • "petition" means a complaint or request or a representation or a submission by a petitioner in terms of this Bylaw
  • "petitioner" means a person who submits a petition in terms of this By-Law and includes a natural or juristic person
  • "relevant authority" means a provincial department, municipal council, ward council or other government institution
  • "referendum" means a referendum referred to in the 1983 referendum;

Petition formatEdit

(1) A petition must have a covering document detailing the complaint or request or representation or submission made by the petitioner(s)

i. Should further information be required, annexures may be added after the signatures

ii. Signatures to the petition must begin on the same page as the end of the covering document

(2) A petition may be submitted in any of the official languages of the Republic of South Africa.

(3) A petition may be submitted in accordance with Section 4 of the Gauteng Petitions Act No. 5 of 2002.

(4) A petition may be signed by signatories as defined in the Section "Definitions" as well as minor signatories.

Petitions with less than 5000 signatories:

(5) The petition must be received by a petition officer who will consider whether the petition

i. is a private matter or

ii. if it falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Johannesburg

(6) A petition satisfying the conditions set out in (5)(ii) must be passed on to the petitions committee at its next sitting who must

(a) consider the validity of the complaint.

(b) convey the petition to the relevant authority.

ii. The relevant authority must then take a decision on how to address the petition

iii. The petitioner(s) must receive a response from either the petitions committee or the relevant authority within 60 days of submission.

(a) The response must either detail actions to be taken to resolve the subject matter;

1. The petition committee or relevant authority must provide regular progress reports every 90 days until the matter is resolved (a) or notify the petitioner that no action will be taken, with reasons

iv. The matter will only be considered resolved with the written consent of the lead petitioner(s)

v. If a petition has not been resolved after 12 months from the date of submission it must be referred to the City Council for consideration.

Petitions with a minimum of 5'000 signatories:

(7) The petition must be received by a petition officer who must consider whether the petition:

i. is a private matter or

ii. if it falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Johannesburg

(8) A petition satisfying the conditions set out in (7) (ii) must be passed on to the petitions committee at their next sitting who must

(a) consider the validity of the complaint

(b) convey the petition to the City Council.

iii. The petition must be put up for formal debate at the next sitting of the City Council

iv. A non-binding decision must be taken on the matters contained within the petition.

v. The petitioner(s) must receive a response from either the petitions committee or the City Council within 60 days of submission.

(a)The response must either detail actions to be taken to resolve the subject matter; The petition committee or City Council must provide regular progress reports every 90 days until the matter is resolved

(b) or notify the petitioner that no action will be taken with reasons.

vi. The matter will only be considered resolved with the written consent of the lead petitioner(s)

Petitions with a minimum of 10'000 signatories:

(9) The petition must be received by a petition officer who will consider whether the petition

i. is a private matter or

ii. if it falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Johannesburg

(10)A petition satisfying the conditions set out in (9)(ii) must be passed on to the petitions committee who must

(a) consider the validity of the complaint

(b) convey the petition to the City Council

iii. The petition must then be put up for formal debate at the next sitting of the City Council

iv. A binding decision must be taken on the matters contained within the petition

v. The petitioner(s) must receive a response from either the petitions committee or the City Council within 60 days of submission.

(a) The response must either detail actions to be taken to resolve the subject matter;

(b) (b)The petition committee or City Council must provide regular progress reports every 90 days until the matter is resolved

(c) or notify the petitioner that no action will be taken with reasons.

vi. The matter will only be considered resolved with the written consent of the lead petitioner(s)

Petitions with a minimum of 100’000 signatories:

(11)The petition must be received by a petition officer who will consider whether the petition

i. is a private matter or

ii. if it falls under the jurisdiction of the City of Johannesburg

(12) A petition satisfying the conditions set out in (11)(ii) must be passed on to the petitions committee who must consider the validity of the complaint.

(13) The petition must be presented to the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg who must then submit it to the President of South Africa for consideration for a citywide referendum on the issue.

(14) Any bylaws created or amended by referendum can only be repealed or amended by referendum.

Access to information:

All petitions and their responses must be recorded and this record must be made publicly available physically and electronically on the City of Johannesburg website, subject to reasonable limitations in terms of any binding superior Provincial or National legislation. The petitions processes as referred to in this By-Law must be made available on the City of Johannesburg website as a guide for citizens.[1]

ReferencesEdit