Clr Vasco Da Gama - Speaker of the City of Johannesburg Legislature

Vasco Da Gama urges students to participate in municipal matters

The City of Johannesburg’s Legislature has invited the University of Johannesburg (UJ) students and academics to keep a closer eye on the executive by ensuring that the promises made during elections turn into deliverables.

The Council Speaker, Cllr Vasco da Gama, Council Chief Whip, Cllr Kevin Wax and the Chair of Chairs, Cllr Alex Christians, recently led the chairpersons of different portfolio committees to UJ to engage with the students.

Addressing more than 450 students from various disciplines such as political science, international relations, governance, law and developmental studies at the packed Kingsway Campus in Auckland Park, Speaker Da Gama called on the student community to be active citizens and participate in municipal matters.

“We monitor proactively and ensure that whatever we have promised is delivered, which is how we are able to improve the lives of our people. I want to also extend an invitation to students who may want to visit the City and engage in further discussions about the municipality. Our doors are open to share knowledge and we are as hungry to learn as we are to teach,” said Speaker Da Gama.

The Speaker, who is the head of the legislative arm of the City, was also accompanied by the Chairpersons of Section 79 Oversight Committees. The committees have a significant role of watching over City departments to ensure they perform and deliver services to residents. The Legislature is responsible for strengthening oversight and scrutiny on the executive in order to enhance accountability to the community.

“The legislature aims to hold the executive accountable, through means such as focusing on the eradication of corruption, nepotism and abuse of power, to inspire public confidence by striving to be an example of good governance, and to effect democratic control. A country cannot dream of a better and more promising future for as long as corruption is the order of the day and remains unchallenged,” added Speaker Da Gama.

Councillor Christians, among others functions, plays a critical role in guiding and ensuring that Section 79 Committees perform their oversight responsibilities on City departments and entities.
“One of the strategic functions my office does is to oversee the implementation of policy with regards to the coordination and management of the work of the Section 79 Committees,” said Cllr Christians.
The Legislature plans to visit more Joburg-based tertiary institutions.

Cllr Wax told the students it was extremely difficult to achieve political consensus amongst different political parties in Council. “We now have unprecedented coalition governments in the county, and the City is also governed by coalition,” said Cllr. Wax.
Speaker Da Gama challenged the students to continue with the robust discussions and to hold the City accountable as part of their democratic responsibility and in order to realise service delivery.
“Continuous engagements with various sectors in the community are critical to stay relevant and at the heartbeat of community issues,” said Speaker Da Gama.
UJ’s Head of Politics, Dr Suzy Graham, encouraged her students to prepare to one day occupy the City’s political leadership positions.

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