North West places seven municipalities under administration

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The North West provincial government has placed seven municipalities under administration. This brings the total number of municipalities under administration in the province to 15.

The provincial government is citing financial distress, collapse of service delivery and instability in council as the reasons for the intervention.

The affected municipalities include JB Marks in Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp, Mamusa in Schweizer-Reneke, Lekwa Teemane in Bloemhof and Christiana, Ratlou in Setlagole, Tswaing in Delareyville, Madibeng in Brits and Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati District based in Vryburg.

In a letter in possession of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News, the MEC for Local Government, Motlalepula Rosho, has since communicated the decision to the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Ministry.

Opposition parties in the Potchefstroom-based JB Marks Municipality in the North West have questioned the timing of the provincial government to place their municipality under administration.

JB Marks is one of the seven municipalities the provincial government stripped of their powers through the invocation of Section 139 1 B of the Constitution.

JB Marks municipality was established after the amalgamation of Tlokwe and Venterdorp municipalities.

Before the merger, Tlokwe was hailed as the best municipality in the province. This as it was having a good record in revenue collection and service delivery.

However, since the merger, the opposition says things have started to fall apart.

They are blaming the political leadership of the municipality. Now the provincial government has intervened.

However, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is sceptical about the intervention.

“We’ve been complaining about issues for a very long time. The Auditor General’s report every year reflects that we are not managing our problems, we are not dealing with our problems. So, intervention was needed. Whether administrator will solve the problems, that’s a big question. And in North West, we haven’t seen administrators fixing municipalities. So, from our point of view, you know, we want to know who the administrators are, and whether this person will be able to fix this mess that we sit with at JB Marks,” says Hans Jurie Moolman, DA caucus Chairperson.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) councillor Johanna Xaba shares the same sentiments.

“As much as we’ve been requesting intervention from the province within our municipality, because of issues that we had and problems that were revolving around the municipality, they’ve never intervened. Today, there’s a situation where the municipality is supposed to be taken to administration, which is a problem. Now, we are then saying, we are not sure as EFF that we’ll be having resolutions to our problems,” says Xaba.

A councillor for the Independent Candidates, David Kham, says the provincial government has failed to follow procedure when intervening in their municipality.

“It will obviously be bizarre to be told that you are being put under Section 139 1 B, which is intervention, and it’s vague in its literal understanding. So the MEC must be able to give you specific areas of failures and give you specific instructions. That’s what the Constitution prescribes. So, they jumped the gun.” says Kham.

A special council has been called for this morning, to discuss the decision of the provincial government.

Though the municipality has acknowledged the decision, it says service delivery is adequately rendered.

“Our municipality is financially viable. On a monthly basis we are paying the salaries of employees. We are paying our huge bills such as Eskom and Water Affairs Department. So, in a nutshell, our municipality is financially viable. And we are also paying our creditors and service providers,” says Victor Boqo, Municipal spokesperson.

Political analyst, Professor Andre Duvenhage, says the fact that it’s now 15 out of 21 municipalities that are under administration, is a sign of a failing local government.

“I must warn, in the past, these 139 interventions wasn’t very successful in the province. And the reason is, if you have a failed local government, then you cannot change the executive only, and expect changes. It’s like changing the captain of a sheep that is busy sinking,” says Prof Duvenhage.

The provincial government remains tight lipped, apart from only saying Premier Job Mokgoro will meet all the stakeholders in Potchefstroom on Friday.

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