Rates boy­cott call con­cern

Grocott's Mail - - NEWS - By SUE MACLENNAN

Mu­nic­i­pal Man­ager Moppo Mene says he’s com­mit­ted to trans­parency and and has ap­pealed to res­i­dents to en­gage with him rather than sup­port a rates boy­cott. Mean­while, Makana Re­vive! says it was not driv­ing a call on so­cial me­dia this week for cit­i­zens to di­vert a por­tion of their rates to the Gra­ham­stown (Makhanda) NPO.

Face­book and What­sapp group de­bates be­gan with res­i­dents’ frus­tra­tion at the state of in­fra­struc­ture and gov­er­nance in Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and moved to ethics; risk and cost of lit­i­ga­tion against the with­holder; the prob­lem of pay­ing money to an NGO that isn’t obliged to ac­count di­rectly to the pub­lic; and the sug­ges­tion that le­gal tools should be used to make the mu­nic­i­pal­ity ac­count­able.

“Calling all Makana ratepay­ers! Please join us in with­hold­ing rates. Why pay rates to a dys­func­tional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity that is clearly al­low­ing our town to go to wreck and ruin?” wrote a res­i­dent on the Gra­ham­stown Face­book page. “It’s time that we stand to­gether and say NO! It’s time for ac­tion! From now on we will di­vert a por­tion of our rates pay­ment to Makana Re­vive! and we chal­lenge fel­low rate pay­ers to do the same.”

How­ever, Makana Re­vive! Mem­ber Ron Weis­senberg says the call does not come from the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“Makana Re­vive! has never called for a rates boy­cott and has no view on what peo­ple do with their own money,” Weis­senberg said. “Makana Re­vive was men­tioned sev­eral times as a likely re­cip­i­ent given the track record on re­pairs and main­te­nance in and around Makana. This cre­ated the im­pres­sion that Makana Re­vive had called for this. Not cor­rect.”

Pub­lic Ser­vice watch­dog PSAM said the Con­sti­tu­tional Court (CC) had com­mented and ruled on the with­hold­ing of rates in var­i­ous judg­ments.

Jay Kru­use, Direc­tor of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Ac­count­abil­ity Mon­i­tor, cited the case of Pre­to­ria City Coun­cil v Walker [1998] ZACC 1; 1998 (2) SA 363 (CC); 1998 (3) BCLR 257 (CC) in which the City Coun­cil char­ac­terised such con­duct as im­per­mis­si­ble self-help.

In that case, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court had said, ““Lo­cal gov­ern­ment is as im­por­tant a tier of pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion as any. It has to con­tinue func­tion­ing for the com­mon good; it, how­ever, can­not do so ef­fi­ciently and ef­fec­tively if ev­ery per­son who has a griev­ance about the con­duct of a pub­lic of­fi­cial or a gov­ern­men­tal struc­ture were to take the law into his or her own hands or re­sort to self-help by with­hold­ing pay­ment for ser­vices ren­dered. That con­duct car­ries with it the po­ten­tial for chaos and an­ar­chy and can there­fore not be ap­pro­pri­ate. The kind of so­ci­ety en­vis­aged in the Con­sti­tu­tion im­plies also the ex­er­cise of re­spon­si­bil­ity to­wards the sys­tems and struc­tures of so­ci­ety. A cul­ture of self-help in which peo­ple refuse to pay for ser­vices they have re­ceived is not ac­cept­able. It is pre-em­i­nently for the courts to grant ap­pro­pri­ate re­lief against any pub­lic of­fi­cial, in­sti­tu­tion or gov­ern­ment when there are griev­ances.”

Mene, who started at Makana Mu­nic­i­pal­ity on 1 Au­gust, said sev­eral or­gan­i­sa­tions had al­ready en­gaged with him con­struc­tively.

“Let those who are un­happy with the way we do things come for­ward and en­gage my of­fice,” Mene said. “I com­mit to serve you with the best of my abil­ity in a man­ner that will pull all of us to­gether for the bet­ter­ment of our city.”

Let those who are un­happy with the way we do things come for­ward and en­gage my of­fice.

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