Several municipalities are set to be placed under administration in the Free State. This follows a letter from Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana to Premier Sisi Ntombela ahead of recent local government elections.

The letter detailed interventions that need to be implemented to assist distressed municipalities.

Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Head of Department, Mokete Duma says the provincial executive committee is scheduled to meet this week to set out specifics around Section 139 interventions.

With activities and excitement around local government elections behind us, the real work is about to start for the newly-formed municipal councils.

In the Free State, Matjhabeng, Tokologo, Maluti-A-Profung, and Kopanong local governments are among the province’s municipalities that are financially distressed.

Kopanong Municipality has barely been able to pay its employees for almost three months.

Payment of third parties has also been withheld.

“If there’s nothing to improve, it will be a dissolution meaning that we will dissolve council and see its mandatory financial recovery plan. So, this is what National Treasury has requested the premier to consider,” says Duma.

The African National Congress (ANC) believes that this is a step in the right direction.

ANC Interim Provincial Committee Spokesperson, Oupa Khoabane says the ruling party is behind the government.

“We support any attempt by the government to try to assist these municipalities with financial management. So, any intervention that helps these municipalities on the issue of financial recovery is welcome and we hope that any decision that has been taken will be in line, that our municipalities are managed in a proper way.”

DA Provincial Chairperson, Roy Jankielsohn says they doubt whether the move will improve the situation.

“They are talking about 11 dysfunctional municipalities. This should have happened a long time ago. In fact, all municipalities, at some stages, were dysfunctional or in total collapse. We do, however, have our concerns about the provincial government’s ability to intervene effectively since Cogta in the Free State, itself, is dysfunctional.”

EFF Provincial Deputy Chairperson, Mahlomola Mojake says the timing is questionable.

“They know these interventions have never worked in the past and they will not start working now. So, I see the bitter people, who don’t want to accept election results. They want to govern through the back door because those interventions are going to be their people who will be going there to go and steal because they are fraudsters.”

Some political parties in the province have also are questioned the timing of the recent notice issued by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department to assist municipalities that are struggling financially:

This comes at a time when there is a proposal by Cogta to move some municipalities from the mayoral executive system to a collective executive system in order to steer them to financial sustainability.