Re­prieve for trou­bled coun­cil

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

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.

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