ADECISION to merge the three municipalities of Lukhanji, Ikwanca and Tsolwana, as approved by the Municipal Demarcation Board of South Africa (MDBSA), will come before the Gauteng High Court on Monday after the DA lodged an urgent court application to prevent the move.
The Rep reported (“Merger goes ahead” August 28) that a merger of the three municipalities would lead to one of the biggest municipalities in the Chris Hani area.
MDBSA board member Simphiwe Dzengwa, speaking on Tuesday at a public meeting in Queenstown on ward delimitations stemming from the merger, confirmed the court case. The decision to merge the municipalities came after the board received a proposal from Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan to consider the recon- figuration of boundaries of said municipalities before the 2016 local elections – the first time a Minister had invoked section 22(2) of the Municipal Demarcation Act No.27 of 1998 since it was promulgated 17 years ago – to turn it into a District Management Area (DMA).
Public meetings between residents and the MDB were disrupted and failed to proceed as residents demanded that board officials did not restrict meetings to Queenstown but also visited Inkwanca and Tsolwana.
The Rep reported (“Residents oppose merger” June 5) that DA constituency leader Celeste Barker submitted copies of petitions containing signatures of more than 3 000 people opposing the merger.
In an interview with The Rep this week, Dzengwa said the Board had, during Tuesday’s meeting, given communities of the areas an opportunity to state their views on ward delimitations. “After that the board will publish the outcomes in the government gazette, then people will be given 14 days to object.”
Queenstown civic and ratepayers’ association chairman Tokkie Deysel said the meeting was confusing. “The documents they gave and the map contradict each other and we have decided that we will give input straight to the board.” He urged organisations and residents to use the 10-day period to make submissions.
Vuyisile Bloom from Hofmeyr said the process was political as the board was taking the strong holds of the ANC and combining them with areas the parties had less support. “They are just strengthening their political support in some wards.”
Chief Matata Hebe said he was affected by the demarcation as part of his village will fall in Nkonkobe municipality and the other section in Lukhanji. “This affects us but we are going to sit with other chiefs and discuss it.” There were other traditional boundaries also due to be affected by the demarcation.
MDBSA spokesman Bulelwa Mbali-Khoele said the board had, on August 25, published its decision on the re-determination or determination of the boundaries of municipalities in the relevant provincial gazettes. After consultation with the Independent Electoral Commission the board had to delimit metropolitan municipalities and local municipalities into wards. The board held meetings in the affected areas to allow the public to air their views on the proposed ward boundaries and would like to finalise the meetings between October 5 and 21. Khoele declined to comment on the DA’s court application as the matter was sub judice.
Lukhanji DA councillor Jerome Shaw said the party’s application was being opposed by Gordhan and the board. The DA was claiming that the consultation process had been flawed.
He said if the court found in favour of the DA then the delimitation of wards process would be nullified.