The Select Committee held a virtual meeting to receive information from the North West MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water & Sanitation & Human Settlements (COGHSTA) on the decision by the provincial government to undertake a section 139(1)(c) intervention in the Tswaing Local Municipality. The action would result in the dissolution of the council in Tswaing. The Minister and the NCOP had to either approve or disapprove the decision. If the decision were approved, the provincial government would appoint an administrator to manage the municipality. The Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) had approved the decision and the Select Committee had to advise the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) whether or not to approve the implementation of section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution.
The North West COGHSTA MEC informed the Committee that there had been a total collapse in municipal services in Tswaing Local Municipality and a lack of collaboration with the provincial government in finding a solution. The North West Provincial Executive Council had resolved to dissolve the council of Tswaing Local Municipality by invoking section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution with immediate effect at a 22 September 2021 meeting. Her Department had been working with the municipality for many years, offering support and trying to resolve the situation. At one stage there were two mayors, two speakers and two municipal managers in Tswaing. Although court orders had been obtained to resolve that matter, the uncertainty continued. The animosity between the two factions had led to the closure of the municipal bank account and some employees had not been paid. Service delivery was non-existent and sewage ran down the streets into businesses and private homes.
A number of stakeholders supported the position of the North West Provincial Government (NWPG) but several stakeholders, including the current mayor, councillors and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) believed that, with local government elections just over two weeks away, the timing was inappropriate. Several stakeholders disputed the veracity of the MEC presentation and questioned if the council had been given the necessary support. One association alleged that the ruling party in the municipality was using this legislative process to deal with party members whom it was reluctant to discipline.
Members tried to get to the truth of the matter, asking if the parallel structures continued to exist. They raised questions about the finances, the equitable share paid into the municipal account on 1 July 2021 and why, although the bank account had been frozen, there had been movement in the account. What had happened to the R68 million given to the municipality? How had someone obtained access to the municipal bank account when it had been frozen by the courts? A breakdown of the monies spent from the July 2021 equitable share paid over to the municipality. Did the two mayors come from the same or different organisations? Why did the MEC feel so strongly about dissolving the council less than a month before elections? Had the MEC invoked section 139(1)(a) to notify the municipality that she intended to dissolve the council if certain items were not done? What had the mayor expected NWPG to do by way of support?
The Chairperson introduced the topic, explaining that the Committee had an open mind about the matter and would hear the provincial government, local government, employee unions and stakeholders on the matter. The North West COGHSTA MEC would brief the Select Committee on the status of the section 139(1)(c) intervention in the Tswaing Local Municipality and explain why the provincial executive had taken the decision to intervene, especially as it was less than a month before the local government elections. Both the COGTA Minister and the NCOP had to either approve or disapprove the decision. If the decision were approved, the provincial executive would appoint an administrator to manage the municipality.
Members had to apply their minds to the reasons for the decision and the process followed to reach the decision. He invited the North West COGHSTA MEC to brief the Committee.
North West COGHSTA MEC briefing
Ms Lenah Miga, North West COGHSTA MEC, explained that there had been a total collapse in municipal services in Tswaing Local Municipality and a lack of collaboration with the Provincial Executive. She had previously met with some stakeholders who had requested a meeting with her in an attempt to resolve the situation. However, the intervention was not successful and the Mayor, Municipal Manager and others had approached her for a formal intervention. The North West Provincial Executive Council had resolved to dissolve the council of Tswaing Local Municipality by invoking section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution with immediate effect at a meeting of EXCO held on 22 September 2021.
North West COGHSTA Acting HOD, Mmamorena Lehoko, provided detailed information on the situation in Tswaing Local Municipality. She explained the procedure for interventions. Complaints included the failure by the municipality to provide sustainable water services to the community; to clean the town, fix street lights; attend to potholes. The Municipal Office was said to be always closed and the Municipal Manager was not accessible, nor the administrative staff, and so there was no one to communicate with when there were service delivery challenges.
The Acting HOD suggested that the way forward would include the appointment of an Administrator and an intervention task team. Clear terms of reference for the Administrator and team would have to be crafted for work to be done. A Monitoring Plan would be developed for approval by the MEC.
COGTA Deputy Minister remarks
Ms Thembi Nkadimeng, COGTA Deputy Minister, noted that a major difficulty was that there were two Municipal Managers in the municipality. The Minister had agreed to the dissolution of the municipality, following a discussion with the MEC earlier in the month of October.
The Chairperson invited political parties that had seats in the municipality to provide input.
Addresses by North West Political Parties
Mr De Wet Nel, FF+ Member of North West Provincial Legislature (NWPL), stated that although he was a member of the COGHSTA provincial portfolio committee, he had received the link to the meeting only five minutes earlier. There had been absolutely no consultation on the matter at provincial legislature level.
The Chairperson explained that the NCOP Committee had only received the information a couple of days after the decision had been taken and it was expected to resolve the matter within 14 days. The Committee had communicated, as was normal practice, with the Provincial Department, indicating who should be invited. The NCOP Committee normally invited the provincial portfolio committee and relevant stakeholders such as SALGA and community organisations. It was out of the hands of the Committee which relied on the Provincial Department, but it was in the interest of the Committee to hear as many of the interested parties and stakeholders as possible.
Mr Kagiso Mangwejane, DA Councillor Tswaing Municipality, said that there had been no support from the North West Provincial Government. Furthermore, the previous interventions had never worked in Tswaing. When the previous Administrator had been removed, the municipal council had not even been informed that he was leaving. The former MEC had passed away and the new MEC had not met with the municipal council before the decision to dissolve the council had been taken – she had only met with the ANC. The provincial government was to blame for the problems. Numerous letters had been sent via his party’s national channels but NWPG had never responded. The rot was in the administration. It was not a situation that could be changed by political elections. The council was being ruled by courts and the NWPG had not gone to court to defend the municipality. None of the reports were ever presented to the municipal council and the NWPG ignored the fact that councillors were responsible to their constituencies and had to report back to them. [Mr Mangwejane lost internet connectivity while he was speaking].
Ms Elsie Kgasu, EFF Councillor Tswaing Municipality and EFF municipal party leader, said that there had been many administrators during her term. The MECs had come to the municipality but had never resolved the matter. The administration of the Tswaing local government was the problem. It was correct that there was no service delivery in Tswaing. The MEC and her team entertained the ANC, particularly a man by the name of Mr (Hlomane) Chauke. It was about political battles while there was no water or services for the citizenry.
She was adamant that the MEC had never intervened. There were incomplete RDP developments in Tswaing; there were no roads in Tswaing. The NWPG had to intervene. She wanted to know where the MEC had got the report that Tswaing had not complied. There were two mayors, two municipal managers and two CFOs so she did not know from whom the MEC had received the report she was speaking of. The MEC should not confuse governance issues with political issues. It was an administrative issue because the labourers or employees had been protesting and had not worked since 2016. The offices of the municipality were closed from time to time. The Councillors were trying to do their work but they could not because of the Council employees that would not work. The employees even got the community to support their strikes. They had got rid of the municipal manager who had wanted to discipline the workers. The issues were not really about statutory deductions; it was the ANC that was preventing the municipality from working. The ANC councillors did not want to serve the community. She repeated that the MEC had never assisted the Council. Tswaing could not go on like that.
Ms Mangy Malwane, ANC Tswaing Municipal Mayor, said that the MEC had stated that Exco had made the decision to dissolve the municipality based on a report drawn up by COGHSTA. The Tswaing Municipal Council had been asked to arrange a meeting so the news could be conveyed, but the reasons for dissolution given in this presentation were different from what had been told to Councillors, or indicated in the letter sent to the Council. She also disagreed that the Council had received supported from NWPG.
Ms Malwane did not dispute that there were challenges in Tswaing, as there were in all other municipalities, but despite letters to the NWPG, no support had been forthcoming. In fact, the DA member, who had been doing well on the Council, had been removed as a result of the influence of some SA Municipality Union (SAMU) members.
She explained that when the municipal council was elected in 2016, it had been unable to table its oversight report as there were eight outstanding oversight reports from previous councils. The Council had ultimately tabled all those reports. The MEC’s statement about compliance reports was also not a true reflection of the situation. All compliance reports had been tabled. The problems arose with the illegal appointment of a municipal manager. The Opposition had spoken the truth: the Council was being dissolved because of the influence of some SAMU members. The MEC had come to Tswaing to consult with taxpayers but those taxpayers had taken the government to court as there was no water. She added that the problem about water had been resolved. The MEC had come to Tswaing where she had consulted with a few SAMU members only. The mayor and the councillors had not been informed of the meeting.
At a ‘meet and greet’ with the new MEC, Ms Malwane had requested a meeting with the MEC, but she had not received a response. She had requested a hearing with the MEC, but she had not been heard. It was not the truth that the Provincial Department had supported the municipality. Following the lack of support, the Council had written to the Office of the then Premier and the Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) Coordinator, Mr Chauke, but no response had been received. It was a political issue as the provincial government was supporting certain people. There were no longer two mayors, municipal managers, etc. as there was a court order dissolving the illegal appointments. The MEC was ignoring the court order.
Mr Mangwejane, DA Councillor, who had re-connected with the meeting, said that service delivery would collapse. An administrator was not a solution as previous administrators had simply come to Tswaing and left again without resolving anything. It was a political issue, so a new administrator would not be helpful. The provincial government was not supporting municipalities in the North West.
The Chairperson invited political parties from the North West provincial legislature to express their views.
The Chairperson was obliged to request observers to remain silent or leave the meeting before the parties could be heard.
Mr Nel (FF+ North West MPL) said that provincial legislature oversight committee had not been consulted. There should not be a dissolution before consequence management had been implemented and he wanted proof of the implementation of consequence management. If proper consequence management been implemented, there would be no need to dissolve the municipality. He added that other political parties would not be on the platform as they had not been invited nor had they received the link to the meeting.
The Chairperson expressed his disappointment that all parties were not available to express their views. He invited the unions to present their views.
Trade Unions views
Ms M Mkumbeni, Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU), said that intervention was necessary but she asked if the timing was correct. What was the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) saying about it? Why was the stakeholder meeting being held after invoking section 139(1)(c)? In all municipalities, the MEC met only with SAMU and so the matters would not be resolved. The MEC would not resolve the problems if she was biased and met only with SAMU.
She added that Tswaing was being ruled by court orders, including rules 183 and 184 but no one was doing anything about those things. Where were the policies of the ANC? The ANC was not dealing with the situation. Whoever was defying the court orders had to be dealt with but the ruling party was quiet. Administrators came and then left without providing an intervention report. Section 139(1)(c) should not be invoked 14 days before elections. When would the MEC give the terms of reference to the new administrator? There would not be a proper hand-over to newly elected councillors and so the situation would not be resolved. The funds for service delivery were being used for legal fees. There were two security companies in Tswaing and employees were being suspended while the two municipal managers continued to fight over tenders. A Section 139(1)(c) intervention would not solve the problem because it addressed only the council and not the problems in the administration. There was no consequence management. What did the ruling party policies say about deployees that defied the MEC? The intervention would not work at the current time. It was now too late.
Ms Kgasu, EFF Councillor, noted that Itumeleng Jonas was on the platform. She said that she could not be in a meeting with Mr Jonas. She asked if he had been invited.
The Chairperson said that he could only vouch for Members of Parliament, the North West MEC and whoever was invited by the COGHSTA Department. He asked that anyone who had not been invited to log out; he was unable to determine who should not be on the platform.
Mr Thabang Chachu, SAMU Secretary in Tswaing Local Municipality, said that the municipality had experienced many problems and there had been many administrators and the imposing of sections 152, 153 and 154 would not be effective if the local department did not do what it was supposed to do. He failed to understand how the local department could have assisted when the Mayor had interdicted the municipality. SAMU had organised a strike and they could not even get a memorandum into the municipality. The MEC had to collect the memorandum outside of the municipal building because of the interdict. Interventions had been ongoing since 2017, but in 2018 Mr Maruti had become the municipal manager and then there had been two sites of administration, and officials had supported different municipal managers. More fights had erupted following the section 106 report and council meetings had disintegrated. When last had a council meeting in Tswaing been held? Council meetings were a battlefield between two sets of councillors. Tswaing was ruled by the courts and employees became victims of the political parties. Employees had been fired without proper disciplinary procedure and so SAMU could not be blamed for the problems – the problems lay with the councillors. When the MEC had tried to intervene, the mayor had threatened to go to court. People were interdicted.
Mr Chachu stated that SAMU supported the dissolution because the councillors had no oversight and had not assisted SAMU. Monies authorised for service delivery had been used to pay for court cases. The money should be recouped by interdicting the pension funds of the people who had given permission for the court cases. SAMU would support any administrator who had the interests of employees and the community at heart.
Business organisations input
Mr Christo Viljoen, North West Business Chamber, stated that the Business Chamber had several concerns: service delivery had totally collapsed. There had been no electricity in Delareyville since the cessation of load shedding at 12:30 a.m. that morning. He reminded Members of the court case that AfriForum had won against the municipality about water supply, but there were still times when the municipality was without water. The debtor figures supplied by the MEC were incorrect and he could prove that payments on debtor accounts had not been reconciled for the past four months. There were many inflated debtor accounts, particularly for electricity usage.
The Business Chamber had met with the former administrators, Mr Tiro Mose and Mr Seth Ramagaga, but both had been removed before the situation could be resolved. The proposed intervention would be ineffective as long as the current administration remained. Municipal Manager, Mr Isaac Moruti, had a record of maladministration and irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. If he were a private taxpayer, Mr Moruti would have been arrested for some of his activities, but he remained free to do as he pleased. The HOD had referred to the fleet of vehicles in Tswaing but that fleet was used as private vehicles and as taxis. The Business Chamber suggested that lifestyle audits be conducted on the municipal manager, the CFO, top management and, specifically, all employees in the electricity department. The HOD had referred to monthly reports but there were only three weeks to the next election, not enough time for even one monthly report. The problem had been emerging over the past ten years and Ministers, MECs and provincial government had been warned that the municipality was collapsing, so why dissolve the council just weeks before the elections? The Business Chamber was adamant that no intervention would work unless the administration was also removed.
Youth organisations input
Mr Danile Mbambane represented the North West African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) which supported the position of the MEC. An intervention was long overdue. Young people believed that councillors were only interested in their salaries and in tenders. Young people were worried about the councillors wanting to have the MEC decision revoked. There was no service delivery in the municipality. When had the mayor last gone to her office? It had been a long time. It was important that the MEC and the NCOP continued with the invocation of section 139(1)(c). The NWPG had to investigate the corruption in the municipality since 2016 because the councillors were fighting for tenders and were not interested in governing. The ANCYL urged the MEC to investigate and to implement the section 106 report.
Ms S Shaikh (ANC Limpopo) acted briefly as chairperson as the Chairperson was experiencing connectivity challenges. She called for input from other external stakeholders.
NWPL COGHSTA Portfolio Committee chairperson input
Mr Arone Motswana, ANC North West MPL, asked to be noted as the chairperson of the provincial legislature committee overseeing COGHSTA. Mr Motswane had struggled to obtain a link to the meeting. A new municipal council was to be elected on 1 November 2021 and he did not believe that it was correct to impose an administrator on a new council that voters had chosen. Previously, the provincial government could have taken the court decision on review, but it had not wanted to undermine the judicial system and the provincial legislature did not want be in conflict with a court order. A letter seen in the media by members of the legislature, but that had not been sent to the North West Provincial Legislature, stated that the province had allowed the appointment of two municipal managers. That was not true as there was a court order addressing that issue.
He repeated his view that it would be irrational to dissolve a municipal council a couple of weeks before elections. Now that an election had been called, the council technically did not exist and was there only to deal with compliance matters. The councillors were actually no longer councillors. He saw no basis for the section 139(1)(c) intervention on the eve of the elections as it was too late at that stage. The lack of service delivery should have been acted upon a long time ago. He asked what the outcome of the section 139(1)(b) intervention had been.
Ms Shaikh, Acting Chairperson, noted that Mr Motswane represented the COGHSTA committee in his views.
Mr Mmoloki Cwaile, MPL NWPL, said that the political and policy framework created a problem because it did not seem proper to dissolve a municipality when there were only 21 days to the local elections. The lifespan of the council had effectively been brought to an end by invoking the elections. Should the council be dissolved, an election would have to take place within 90 days of the dissolution and so that would just result in a delay of the elections. The executive and legislative authority resided with the council, so should the council be dissolved, there would have to be administrative intervention and he believed that section 139(1)(b) would be the appropriate intervention. He believed a business rescue was necessary to deal with the financial issues of the municipality. The water issue was the responsibility of the district and that was not being dealt with. The financial problems emanate from the Chief Financial Officer who has not fulfilled his fiduciary duty and the law provided for a criminal cases to be opened against the person who had neglected his fiduciary duty. That was not the responsibility of the council. It was not reasonable to dissolve the council just before the elections.
The Acting Chairperson stated that all stakeholders had been heard.
The Chairperson returned and invited SALGA to make a submission.
Mr I Sileku (DA) thought it important for SALGA to speak.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) input
Mr Lance Joel, SALGA Chief of Operations, stated that Cllr Stofile, SALGA NEC Member, would present.
Cllr Bheki Stofile, SALGA NEC Member, noted that the Constitutional Court in the matter of the Tshwane municipality had confirmed the manner in which SALGA was dealing with such matters. The political party leading the municipal council had to resolve the matter. The political party must not outsource it to a department or to the House of Parliament. Government did not call it the Department of Local Government but the Department of Cooperative Governance which means the different role players need to work together to address and resolve municipality problems. The municipality has written letters to the province and the premier and senior leaders but had no response. Mr Stofile said that the Inter-governmental Relations Framework Act was not even cited in the NWPG presentation. The situation in Tswaing was untenable with two Mayors, two Speakers and two Municipal Managers, despite a court order declaring the meeting that removed and replaced the Mayor and Speaker invalid. There had also been attempts by Organised Labour to co-govern the municipality. Previous unsuccessful Section 139 Interventions had taken place from June 2010 to May 2011, from May 2015 to Aug 2016, and from May 2019 to recently. Section 106 Investigations had been carried out but there had been no consequence management and no accountability.
SALGA recommended that the Select Committee should place the fulfilment of the Objects of Local Government at the centre of taking a decision to approve or disapprove the Provincial Executive Council decision to dissolve the Tswaing Council. It should not support the dissolution of the Tswaing Council, but should instead create space for the provincial government to play its Section 154 support role and, where necessary, invoke Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act.
Cllr Stofile stated that the problems in the municipality lay with the political party ruling the municipality and that the political party should resolve its own problems and not outsource them.
Mr Joel confirmed that SALGA did not believe that a decision to dissolve the municipal council would make the problems go away.
The Chairperson thanked the stakeholders for their input and invited the Committee to ask questions of clarity. Debate on the merits of the section 139(1)(c) intervention would take place at the Committee meeting later that afternoon.
Ms C Visser (DA North West) was ashamed of what had happened in her province and her municipality. She appreciated the input of SALGA and suggested that the Committee should go back to the drawing board and ensure that the correct action was taken. She wanted to know about the finances, the equitable share paid into the municipal account on 1 July 2021 and why, although the bank account had been frozen, there had been movement in the account. What had happened to the R68 million given to the municipality? How had anyone had access to the municipal bank account when it had been frozen by the court?
The Chairperson asked the MEC to respond immediately so that all questions raised were fully answered.
Ms Lenah Miga, North West COGHSTA MEC, replied that the problems with the bank account had been one of the main motivations for dissolving the municipal council: one party froze the bank account and the other tried to unfreeze the account. That led to endless court challenges which had a negative impact on the municipality. She had identified questions that COGHSTA would have to respond to with a presentation.
The Chairperson explained that the current request was for answers to the questions. He asked the mayor to respond to Ms Visser’s questions.
Ms Malwane, Tswaing Mayor, replied that the questions about money being used carelessly in the municipality should be answered by the MEC as she had gone to the municipality to review the situation and to report to the Provincial Exco. Municipality employees were currently spreading rumours about the municipality on social media but the CFO would be able to explain what was really happening. The municipality was not wasting the equitable share as the money was being utilised in areas where it was necessary for the monies to be utilised. After the unlawful council was appointed and Mr Jonas had been unlawfully appointed, he had requested the bank to freeze the account. Thereafter, the municipality had struggled to pay accounts as the CFO and the legitimate municipal manager did not have access to the bank account. The bank, First National Bank (FNB), had requested the municipality go to court to resolve the dispute of who should have access to the municipal bank account. The council had not wanted to waste money on legal fees but it was obliged to go to court in order to access the bank account. The court had given access to the bank account to the appointed municipal manager, but as soon as the MEC decided to dissolve the municipal council, Mr Jonas had again gone to the bank to have the account frozen, using the letter from the MEC on the matter of dissolution as evidence that the account had to be frozen.
Ms Malwane stated that the municipality had been implementing the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) programme as required, but SAMU members had accessed the tender documents from the supply chain office in the municipality and destroyed the documents. The supply chain officials had re-advertised the tender but the previous week, SAMU members had once again accessed the supply chain office and removed the documents. A case had been opened at the police station but no action had been taken by SAPS.
The Chairperson stopped Ms Malwane, requesting her to respond to questions and not raise new issues.
Ms Shaik said that, although the provincial department had made a presentation to the Committee, there were various areas of dispute according to internal and external stakeholders, including provincial support and perhaps the MEC could clarify the situation. Secondly, the parallel structure required clarity. The court order had apparently nullified the parallel structure, so the question was if a parallel structure currently existed or not. Thirdly, consequence management within the municipality had not been addressed. The HOD had commented on an issue relating to the Speaker and she asked for clarity.
The MEC suggested that the municipality had to explain why the presentation was disputed. What had been presented was exactly what the provincial COGHSTA had observed.
The Chairperson requested the MEC to explain what support had been given to the municipality.
The MEC said that the support given had been indicated in the report presented to the Committee. She referred to slide 13 of the presentation. The monitoring and support complied with regulations. Support had been provided to promote participation in community-based local government processes. The municipality had been supported to comply with the implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Amendment (MPRA) Act and to reconcile the valuation roll to the billing system to ensure completeness and accurate billing.
The MEC asked to speak about consequence management. The province could not run the municipality; only the council could implement consequence management, even for individual councillors, and then submit the report to the MEC for consideration and decision-making. Hence, based on the challenges, the provincial government had initially intervened in terms of 139(1)(b). That action had been challenged and the province had consequently invoked 139(1)(c). She did not know if there was a parallel structure but she was dealing with the structure confirmed by the court.
Mr Sileku said that it was unlikely that the Committee would get answers to their questions. It was going to be difficult to justify the COGHSTA presentation which was disputed. He was not sure how the Committee was going to make a decision when the Members were not being given answers to questions. He asked for a breakdown of the R167 million equitable share paid over to the municipality on 1 July 2021 be supplied in writing before the 5pm afternoon meeting so that Members could make an informed decision. He agreed with Cllr Stofile of SALGA and Mr Motswane of the Provincial Legislature that it seemed that the Select Committee was always implementing ANC decisions.
The Chairperson asked for questions of clarity, not discussion.
Mr Sileku asked which council members the MEC had consulted with. Did the two mayors come from the same or different organisations? He asked for specifics on the provincial support provided to the municipality. When had the provincial department started supporting Tswaing? Was it true that the mayor had written to the NWPG MEC and Premier but the provincial government had not responded?
The MEC replied that she was aware of only one letter received and that was to do with the summons that had to be challenged. There were no others in the office but she would have to check if her predecessors had received any letters. Support had started a long time prior as the North West provincial government was itself operating under a Section 100 intervention and the National Department of COGTA had been working with the province on its challenges. Reports had been received from the COGTA teams during that time and so she had not started the process from the beginning but had picked up where the previous process had left off. Her predecessors had engaged with the municipal council and stakeholders. As far as she knew, the two mayors and two speakers came from one political party.
Ms N Nkosi (ANC, Mpumalanga) noted the importance of the meeting. Most of her questions had been raised. The mayor had said that the content of the presentation differed from the content of the letter written to the municipality. What was the situation?
The MEC replied that the contents were the same, although the contents had been summarised for the presentation.
Ms B Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) asked for clarity on the section 106 report and the court order.
The MEC replied that an investigation had taken place and the section 106 report was presented to the municipality, along with the recommendations that the council was expected to implement.
The Chairperson asked why the MEC felt so strongly about dissolving the council less than a month before elections? Had the MEC invoked section 139(1)(a) to notify the municipality that she intended to dissolve the council if certain recommendations were not done?
The MEC replied that much of the work had been done before she was appointed in August 2021, including section 139(1)(a). The stakeholders had indicated the challenges such as no service delivery. The Business Forum had said that the municipal manager was only at the municipal office when he had to pay salaries and that he chose who would be paid a salary. During a visit to the municipality, COGHSTA had observed that service delivery had collapsed and sewage spillages ran through the streets. It was the function of the municipality to provide service delivery. In her view, the core function of the municipality was to provide services. However, the only people observed in the municipal building were the security guards. The municipal managers had been fighting over the selection of security services. She had been shown a video, that had gone viral, in which Mr Jonas and Mr Moruti were fighting over who would get the tenders. If there was no functional oversight, the municipality was not working. No one was taking responsibility for what was happening in the municipality and so there was no consequence management. Section 139(1)(c) had been invoked because it was critical to intervene urgently. Every minute counted when there was maladministration in a municipality.
The Chairperson asked the Mayor what she expected the provincial government to do about the infighting in the municipality, the council not sitting, Eskom was owed money, people were taking tender documents from the municipal office, others were attacked by security guards, the potholes in the streets and no water. What did she expect the NWPG do?
Ms Malwane began by referring to the letters written to the MEC. She had received no response. She had expected the provincial office to intervene because most problems had been created by the division among the councillors. She did not dispute that the municipality had challenges, especially revenue, but she had written to the Department to assist with an intervention that would deal with those employees who were repeatedly disrupting the municipality service delivery. She had expected that her leadership should assist. Some employees were continually disrupting the governance in the municipality and she should have received assistance. It was not true that people were fighting over tenders.
She disputed what the MEC had said that she came to the municipality and intervened. They had written several letters to the previous MEC and Premier. Reports were piling up in the MEC’s office but she did not respond to them. The MEC had not come to the rescue of the municipal council when they requested her intervention.
Ms Malwane had only been able to meet with the MEC because while she and the Speaker were in a meeting with Deputy Minister Bapela, they had received the call that the tender documents had again been removed from the supply chain office. The Deputy Minister had suggested she meet with the MEC. What pains us when they met with the MEC, she had asked if the Mayor had a council resolution permitting her to meet with the MEC. Ms Malwane alleged that all the problems had commenced after Mr Jonas had been appointed.
The Chairperson asked Ms Malwane what she had expected the provincial government to do?
Ms Malwane replied that she had expected the government to support the municipality, but there had been no support from the MEC or the Department, at provincial or national level.
The Chairperson noted that he had asked the previous COGHSTA MEC, Mr Mmoloki Cwaile, about the assessment that MECs had undertaken together with the Minister Dlamini-Zuma. The assessment had identified 64 high risk municipalities, one of which was Tswaing. The report, approved by Cabinet, had recommended that some should be dissolved. He had asked if Mr Cwaile believed that the municipality needed to be dissolved?
The Chairperson did not receive a response from Mr Cwaile and so he reminded Members that Tswaing had been identified in a national assessment of municipalities by COGTA as one of five politically divided and crisis-ridden municipalities in North West that needed to be dissolved. That had been a government process, not a process of the Select Committee.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had heard from all stakeholders, internal and external. He assured the stakeholders that Members had listened very carefully to their points of view. The Committee would meeting that evening. A discussion would take place on whether to approve the dissolution of the Tswaing municipal council or not and it would adopt a Committee Report on this. The NCOP would sit on 13 October to discuss and vote on the Committee recommendation. He reminded the North West Provincial Government that it had to provide the COGTA Report on dysfunctional municipalities and the approval of the dissolution by the COGTA Minister. Legal and other matters would be discussed at the 5pm meeting when Members would be permitted to raise all their concerns.
He thanked the Deputy Minister for attending and the MEC for assisting the Committee. He reiterated that he would check why the invitations had not been extended to the members of the provincial legislature portfolio committee as the Committee was keen to hear their views. Municipalities could only survive if they were held accountable.
The meeting was adjourned.
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