Reprieve for troubled council
THE National Council of Provinces has rejected the KwaZuluNatal government’s decision to place the Emadlangeni municipality under administration.
This comes after the NCOP’s select committee on co-operative governance visited the municipality last week and interacted with stakeholders.
The visit followed the provincial government’s decision to invoke section 139 of the constitution amid the reported collapse of governance and service delivery in the municipality in January.
At the time of intervention, the ANC-led municipal council had been embroiled in infighting over alleged unlawful council decisions.
The municipal manager was also suspended, and the person who was acting in his position reportedly did not meet the appointment requirements.
During the visit, the NCOP committee heard that opposition parties such as the DA and IFP were opposed to the intervention, while the ANC and EFF were in support.
A Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) official told the committee that council infighting had spilt into the administration of the municipal affairs. MEC Nomusa DubeNcube had sent teams to advise the municipality on a number of occasions, to no avail.
But the NCOP committee said the constitution required provincial governments to monitor and support local government, among other things, to carry out their mandate.
“Both the national and the provincial governments are required to support and strengthen, by legislative and other measures, the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.
“Section 139 of the constitution can only come into play when all these forms of support have been exhausted,” the committee said in its report.
The committee also said that since the intervention was instituted by the KZN Cogta, the administrator had not been appointed.
While there were challenges with appointments of senior managers in the municipality, the positions were all advertised at the end of May.
“Other challenges, including the performance of the municipality in terms of the integrated national electricity programme, could still be addressed by providing support to the municipality in terms of section 154(1) of the constitution, instead of the invocation of section 139(1)(b) of the constitution.”
The NCOP has ordered that the South African Local Government Association facilitate training and capacity-building for the councillors.
Cogta was ordered to table quarterly progress reports to the NCOP on the performance and implementation of the Back to Basics pillars in the municipality, including the filling of vacant senior management positions.
Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department was unaware of the NCOP’s decision, but they would respect it.
He added that when the provincial government intervened, it had taken an informed decision to avoid the collapse of the municipality.
“Things are slowly but surely getting back on track,” he said.