Cogta’s cu­ri­ous tim­ing

The Witness - Wheels - - OPINION - Mer­gan K. Chetty • Mer­gan K. Chetty is a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and the DA NCOP Cogta spokesper­son.

ALTHOUGH the DA wel­comes the long over­due de­ci­sion by KwaZulu- Natal Cogta MEC No­musa Dube- Ncube to dis­solve the Mtu­batuba mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, we can­not help but ques­tion the tim­ing of the MEC’s de­ci­sion to in­voke sec­tion 139( 1)( c) of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity is ur­gently in need of ef­fec­tive man­age­ment to im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery and cor­rect bud­getary ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, but it ap­pears that the ANC has in­voked this pro­vi­sion to main­tain po­lit­i­cal con­trol of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

When Mtu­batuba’s coun­cil was un­der ANC con­trol, the MEC was will­ing to al­low for the sec­tion 139( 1)( b) in­ter­ven­tion ini­ti­ated in Septem­ber 2012 — a less se­ri­ous form of in­ter­ven­tion — to be ex­tended un­til March 2015. How­ever, 15 days af­ter the ANC- NFP coali­tion dis­in­te­grated on Jan­uary 30 and only af­ter the bal­ance of power shifted to the IFP, did the KZN pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee de­cide to in­voke sec­tion 139( 1)( c), al­low­ing them to com­pletely dis­solve the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil.

The DA ac­knowl­edges that sec­tion 139( 1)( c) should only be used in cases where it is clear that the dis­so­lu­tion of the coun­cil is the only op­tion to place a dys­func­tional mu­nic­i­pal­ity on a sta­ble foot­ing, but the dys­func­tion in Mtu­batuba has been ap­par­ent since 2012. If the in­ter­ven­tion had been un­der­taken when the first signs of fail­ure emerged, it would have reversed the harm done by in­ces­sant ser­vice- de­liv­ery break­downs, would have been less costly and, with good lead­er­ship, been more ef­fec­tive.

The MEC’s fail­ure to act and act de­ci­sively, am­pli­fies the con­cerns raised in the fourth Par­lia­ment’s Le­gacy Re­port that “in­ter­ven­tions are usu­ally made far too late, when a mu­nic­i­pal­ity is about to col­lapse”. The MEC has plunged Mtu­batuba even fur­ther into a state of dys­func­tion by in­ter­fer­ing po­lit­i­cally to main­tain ANC power and im­pose her de­ci­sions.

It is clear that af­ter the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment took over cer­tain com­pe­ten­cies from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in 2012 in terms of sec­tion 139( 1) ( b), the lives of Mtu­batuba’s peo­ple have still not changed for the bet­ter. By the mayor’s own ad­mis­sion, the 175 000 res­i­dents of Mtu­batuba still do not have ac­cess to ba­sic wa­ter. This sit­u­a­tion is typ­i­cal of the ANC’s in­abil­ity to grasp the need for timeous in­ter­ven­tion in trou­bled mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and re­flects the rul­ing party’s lack of com­mit­ment to ser­vice de­liv­ery and im­prov­ing the lives of the peo­ple of KZN.

In the re­cent Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces Se­lect Com­mit­tee meet­ing, where Par­lia­ment has the op­por­tu­nity to scru­ti­nise thor­oughly the rea­sons for sec­tion 139 in­ter­ven­tions, the MEC’s re­port in­di­cated that the na­tional min­is­ter of Cogta, Pravin Gord­han, fast- tracked the 139( 1)( c) in­ter­ven­tion even be­fore it came to the NCOP.

The ANC clearly does not re­spect the will of the elec­torate. Sec­tion 139( 1)( c) should only be in­voked when it is jus­ti­fied by ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances and not only when ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances are ac­com­pa­nied by the loss of politi- cal power.

Mtu­batuba, as in the case of Mooi Mpo­fana Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, is the sec­ond mu­nic­i­pal­ity in KZN to be placed un­der sec­tion 139 ( 1)( c) ad­min­is­tra­tion within six months. As the case of Mooi Mpo­fana, al­le­ga­tions of mis­man­age­ment, cor­rup­tion, in­fight­ing and fac­tion­al­ism due to de­ployed cadres took the fo­cus away from ser­vice de­liv­ery and the well­be­ing of the com­mu­nity.

The ANC con­tin­ues to show the res­i­dents and ratepay­ers that the fight for lu­cra­tive po­si­tions is more im­por­tant than the in­ter­est of the peo­ple.

The grow­ing num­ber of KZN mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties un­der pro­vin­cial ad­min­is­tra­tion is proof of the dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences of cadre de­ploy­ment by the ma­jor­ity party. The re­al­ity is that failed cadres are re­de­ployed to other spheres of gov­ern­ment, while the cit­i­zens of the coun­try con­tinue to pay for their in­com­pe­tence. We im­plore the MEC to guar­an­tee the res­i­dents of Mtu­batuba that none of the cur­rent ANC coun­cil­lors will be brought back, as hap­pened in the re­cent elec­tions held in Mooi Mpo­fana.

The dis­crep­an­cies be­tween the ac­counts of the newly elected po­lit­i­cal lead­ers of Mtu­batuba, the for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tor and the MEC about what is ac­tu­ally go­ing on in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, should raise ques­tions about the po­lit­i­cal mo­tives be­hind the coun­cil’s dis­so­lu­tion.

It is time for the peo­ple of KZN to make their voices heard and vote for good gov­er­nance by com­pe­tent in­di­vid­u­als who will up­hold the Con­sti­tu­tion.

PHOTO: AP

A cam­era op­er­a­tor films as the Rus­sian aer­o­batic team Yakovlev per­forms at the in­au­gu­ral func­tion of Aero In­dia 2015 at Ye­la­hanka Air Base in Ban­ga­lore, In­dia, yes­ter­day. The event has been held for 10 years and this year, del­e­gates from 109 coun­tries, along with avi­a­tion com­pa­nies from around the world, are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the five- day event, which runs un­til Fe­bru­ary 22.

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