The Kgetlengrivier Ratepayers’ Association has officially taken over water and sewage provision from the troubled Kgetlengrivier Local municipality in the North West. This follows a North West High Court ruling in December, which gave the association the green light to take over if the municipality fails to supply water sustainably to residents of Koster and Swartruggens.

The Kgetlengrivier Ratepayers’ Association says they had no other alternative, but to take the legal route as residents had been crying foul over service delivery provision for years with no relief or assistance.

The association’s chairperson, Carel Van Heerden, says: “The municipality hasn’t got the decency to oppose this court order. Now they want to take matters into their own hands. It’s a very clear court order that we are allowed according to the judge that we can take over the water plant and the sewage plant and that is what we are going to do.”

Although the municipality is marred by myriad of challenges, municipal workers union, Samwu in the province, is against this motion.

Samwu provincial Secretary Vincent Diphoko elaborates: “We don’t welcome that decision. If you read that court order clear it tells you that the ratepayers have a responsibility to appoint their own people and the municipality will pay those people their salary each and every month. If that is the case it means we are going to have two duplicate positions from the level of the municipality and the level of the rate payers association.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by the MEC for Local Government Mmoloki Cwaile: “We will never agree that the constitutional mandate of the municipality should be hijacked by the communities. It is irregular, it is a serious error we are correcting on our internal capacities at the municipality.”

Local Government expert at the North West University, Professor Rhulani Hanyane, says a precedent has been set in local government.

“The precedence is also set for other municipalities that in a situation where the municipality fails to undertake its mandate as compelled by the provision that a particular process in rectifying certain challenges be under taken,” says Hanyane.

The municipality is expected to file an urgent court application in bid to take back the power from the ratepayers’ association.