Residents in the North West’s dysfunctional Ditsobotla Local Municipality are calling for the formation of a new council. Following the by-elections on December 14, the municipality still lacks a properly constituted council.
On December 28, the inauguration of the new councillors was disrupted.
Residents complain that sewage spills, uncollected refuse and lack of water in some areas have worsened. By-elections were held in December, just two months after the council’s dissolution.
Yet more than 20 days later, a new council has still not been formed. Residents say service delivery has been seriously affected.
One resident says, “We still don’t know what happened. We don’t have councillors we don’t know our councillors.”
“The councillors are not sworn in as yet we don’t know what’s going on. There aren’t services even,” adds another resident.
Instability continues to be the order of the day in the Lichtenburg-based Ditsobotla Local Municipality. Contract workers have downed tools due to the non-payment of their December salaries.#UpdateAtNoon #sabcnews pic.twitter.com/XKG307YeFQ
— #UpdateAtNoon 104-107fm 📻 (@UpdateAtNoon) January 6, 2023
Political parties’ views
For the political parties, the question is whether the 14-day period to form a council has lapsed or not. The Democratic Alliance’s Yusuf Laher says, “It was the last day to constitute council and once the administrator adjourned council it meant that the fourteen days have lapsed and the act is very vague as we speak it doesn’t tell us exactly whether public holidays are included in the 14 days or not. As the DA we still waiting for a legal opinion.”
Video – By-elections taking place in the Ditsobotla Municipality:
However, Dintwe Mekgwe of the EFF claims that the 14-day period for political parties to apply for the new council has passed.
“It says 14 days. Now you remember that the duties of the council are continuous even on Sunday council can be convened so that excuse is weak. The department of co-operative government must ensure that they go to court and apply for deviation in court so as to ensure that the court advises accordingly on the matter as to say whether they offer them the deviation or we go back to the by-election,” Mekgwe explains.
Meanwhile, Mbahare Kekana of the Forum for Service Delivery says they are still within the stipulated time period. Kekana Forum for Service Delivery says, “We support the adjournment of the previous sitting the call for another re-run is still premature. For people who want to go to court that thing is too premature.”
MEC for Co-operative Governance, Nono Maloyi, says the council will sit next week.
“Councillors are going to be sworn in on Monday. The speaker is going to be elected, Exco is going to be elected; the mayor is going to be elected. And once that exercise is done, the council must now do its work. Its work will be to deliver quality service delivery to our people.”
Video – Voting off to a smooth start in hotly contested Ditsobotla Municipality by-elections:
Legal expert Thabiso Pule says if it is approached, the court will most likely provide an extension.
“Courts normally are very wary of awarding parties prayer to postpone or to seat 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.”
With section 29 subsection 2 of the Municipal Structure’s ACT indicating that a council should be constituted within 14 days after the elections, there are concerns that next week’s planned sitting might be deemed illegal, should a court application not be made.
Video – The Ditsobotla Local Municipality in the North West will be holding two parallel council sittings: