Business Day

Midvaal and Emfuleni municipal merger set aside — for now

- KHULEKANI MAGUBANE Parliament­ary Writer

CAPE TOWN — The Municipal Demarcatio­n Board’s decision to merge the Midvaal Municipali­ty with the Emfuleni Municipali­ty was set aside yesterday by the High Court in Pretoria, opening the way for the opposition party to retain the only council it runs in Gauteng in next year’s local government election.

Midvaal Municipali­ty is run by the Democratic Alliance (DA), while Emfuleni Municipali­ty is run by the African National Congress (ANC).

The merger would have created a fourth metropole in Gauteng and the country’s ninth.

Merging the two municipali­ties into a metro was part of the ANC’s plan to create wall-to-wall metros in Gauteng province. Had it gone ahead, it would have slanted the numbers in the amalgamate­d council in the ANC’s favour, as Emfuleni is more populous.

Cooperativ­e Governance and Traditiona­l Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan, Gauteng Premier David Makhura and officials from both councils agreed that each municipali­ty be left as is for the 2016 polls in an out-of-court settlement that was later made an order of the High Court.

The ANC and the demarcatio­n board have indicated they would pursue the merger after the elections. “It’s a settlement. The parties affected have agreed and that was taken as a settlement. The status quo would then revert. We will proceed with processes to pursue the merger after 2016,” demarcatio­n board chairwoman Jane Thupana said.

“We, as the ANC in Gauteng, have reached a determinat­ion that the towns in Sedibeng district are not ready for a metro. This is an out-ofcourt settlement that has been made into a court order,” ANC Gauteng spokesman Nkenke Kekana said.

Mr Kekana said the programme to have wall-to-wall metros in Gauteng would continue beyond next year. Mr Baloyi said while the ANC might view the settlement as a postponeme­nt, Midvaal council and the DA viewed it as a victory.

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