OFFICE OF THE SPEAKER
SPEAKER OF COUNCIL:
Cllr Maria Hermans
Tel: +27 (0) 41 5054422
Get to know your Speaker
ROLE OF THE SPEAKER’S OFFICE
Councillor Maria Hermans is the current Speaker of Council. She was elected in terms of section 36 of the Municipal Structures Act (Act No.117 of 1998) and as envisaged in Section 160(1)(b) of the Constitution. The Speaker’s primary responsibility is to preside over meetings of the Council. This duty entails the smooth conduct of Council plenary business. A legislated function of the Speaker is to promote good conduct among elected Councillors through application of the Code of Conduct, together with the Chief Whip.
The Speaker works in close liaison with the Executive Mayor, who often requests the Speaker to preside or represent the Executive Mayor at official functions.
The Speaker oversees and runs a number of programmes from her Office, for example the Moral Regeneration Movement.
An important addition to the duties of the Speaker is overseeing the activities of the newly elected Women’s Caucus, which was launched on 3 August 2007, in the capacity of chairperson. The multi-party Women‘s Caucus consists of all the female members of Council, cutting across party-political barriers.
The theme/slogan of the Women’s Caucus is ‘Women at work against poverty’. Women, actively working together, hand in hand, lobbying to advance the cause of women and remove any barriers or impediments to their advancement The launch of the Women’s Caucus heralded a new dawn for female Councillors and for all the women of Nelson Mandela Bay.
Click here to view a detailed list of the role and functions of the Speaker
Like many leaders that have come through the ranks of the African National Congress to lead in parliament, provincial legislatures and local councils, the new Speaker of Council, Maria Hermans, has followed suit.
Cllr Hermans has dedicated more than 15 years to working within the structures of the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the ANC which has groomed her well to hold one of the highest ranking positions in Council.
Her leadership qualities started showing as early as 1990, when she was a student representative council secretary at Booysens Park Senior Seconday school.
Her love for politics started very young, when she became aware of the poverty and distress she saw on a daily basis in her area of Kleinskool. A single mother to two little girls, Cllr Hermans was branch chairperson of the South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union (SARHWU) which later became the Trade and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU). She eventually became a national executive member of SARHWU and later joined the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), where she quickly moved up the ranks to reach branch chairperson and provincial bargaining coordinator in 1999.
In 2001 she was elected as NEHAWU Regional Deputy Chairperson and moved on in 2003 to become a National Bargaining Coordinator. During that period Cllr Hermans was also active within branch and regional ANC and South African Communist Party structures.
In 2008 she was elected provincial treasurer for NEHAWU, and later became the COSATU Provincial Treasurer.
In 2000 she was elected as a Proportional Representative of the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay Council, and served as the Portfolio Chairperson of Sport, Recreation Arts & Culture on the Mayoral Committee until May 2011.
Cllr Hermans looks forward to the challenges that her new position as Speaker of Council will bring. “I come at a time when the ruling party has a slight majority. It will be challenging and interesting how I keep the council intact and focused on the job at hand. But I think I am equal to the task, the ANC and the labour movement has groomed me well to deal with any situation within council.”
Cllr Hermans is focussed on her plans to improve the public image of Council.
“I need to improve the image and integrity of the Council. Our people need to have confidence in the Council and what it does to improve their lives. Public participation is also crucial in achieving this goal. The Council needs to be accessible to the people.”
Cllr Hermans is currently completing a B Comm Degree in Accounting, and has also studied bookkeeping at Damelin, has done a course on Gender and Economic Development at the University of the Western Cape, and is currently completing a course in Local Government Law and Public Administration at the Fort Hare University.