Ditsobotla Municipality to hold its first council sitting since by-elections

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The Lichtenburg-based Ditsobotla Local Municipality in the North West will hold its council sitting on Monday. This comes after the disruption of the sitting on the 28th of last month. The Municipal Structures Act stipulates that a council must be formed 14 days after the announcement of election results. However, since the by-elections were held in Ditsobotla on the 14th of December, there’s been no council.

Local government expert Doctor Tshepang Molale says this may force the provincial government to intervene.

“I would expect that the municipality would then have to be placed under administration via Section 139 of the constitution and maybe an administrator would come to make sure, as councillors are unable to perform their functions or duties. In such case, the administrator would then have to make sure that they provide services to communities that do not have the services being taken care of. It cannot happen that the municipality is plunged into chaos like this” says Molale.

A legal expert says the court is not likely to order another round of by-elections Municipality. There are now concerns that the planned council sitting might be deemed illegal. Legal expert Thabiso Pule says should any of the parties or government take the matter to court, those would be found guilty, might be treated with leniency.

“Courts normally are very wary of awarding parties prayer to postpone or to sit again for by-elections because normally what the courts will do, they will say IEC must make submissions to the court in regards to how they decide the case. So it’s not always prudent for the court to grant the parties for the by elections to be held again because as you understand the logistics also budget constraints of the IEC. So the courts will just say I’ll give parties maybe an extension 10 days or whatever extension the parties will pray for”, Pule explained.

The select committee on Co-operative Governance at the National Council of Provinces says it is concerning that the council has not been constituted in Ditsobotla 14 days after December 14 by-elections. The newly elected councillors failed to constitute a council, twenty days after the by-elections. The councillors have not yet been sworn in, with a sitting is expected to take place on Monday. This is regardless of the 14 day period stipulated on the Municipal Structure’s ACT.

“Now that the council has not sat within the stipulated legislative period of 14 days, this is quite concerning. We are not sure of the actual reason why this is happening and as the NCOP, we will in due course interact most definitely with the provincial government”, says China Dodovu, NCOP chairperson of the select committee on co-operative governance.

VIDEO: Residents of Ditsobotla in North West demand service delivery: