Interventions in Mamusa, Kannaland and Mafikeng Municipalities: discussion

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Meeting report

Select Committee on Local Government and Administration

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
19 August 2004
INTERVENTIONS IN MAMUSA, KANNALAND AND MAFIKENG
MUNICIPALITIES: DISCUSSION

Chairperson: Mr S Shiceka(ANC)

Documents handed out
Report on Select Committee visit to the Mamusa Local Municipality
Summary of Section 106 Investigation Report into Kannaland Municipal Council
Report of Ad Hoc Committee on Intervention into Mafikeng Local Municipality
Progress Report on Section 139 Intervention of Mafikeng Local Municipality

SUMMARY
The Committee discussed the progress reports on interventions undertaken into Mamusa, Kannaland and Mafikeng municipalities and to determine an appropriate strategy for the Committee. Comments and questions were raised by Members and agreement was reached on requesting Provincial MECs of the Western Cape and North West Governments to address the Committee on latest developments.

MINUTES
Committee Report on its visit to Mamusa Municipality

The Chairperson reminded the Committee of the provincial intervention of Mamusa Municipality of the North West where the local council had been dissolved and an administrator had been appointed from 23 June until 3 September. He drew attention to the committee report given to members two weeks previously which they had been instructed to consider. The report outlined the visit to Mamusa by a Committee delegation and its investigation findings. He said that the dissolution of a municipality by a provincial government was a rare occurrence that demanded attention by the Committee. It was important that Members consider the circumstances surrounding the intervention and seek to learn lessons that could be applicable in the future. The Chairperson invited Members to raise comments and questions on the committee report.

Mr D Worth (DA) asked whether the recent by-election had produced a new collection of Councilors or were there some remnants of the previous incarnation.

Mr M Mzizi (IFP) asked about any developments in the arrest of particular Councilors that had been discussed at the initial investigation and also whether any elections had occurred on the 18 August. Was the present union in place answerable to the relevant Department and would the Council Development Plan regarding capacity building be implemented forthwith. The point was also raised that the report mentioned other provinces in terms of possible infringements of regulations . Were there serious problems in other provinces that required similar action?

Mr J Le Roux(DA) inquired about the present status of the ward committees and asked whether these were to remain or change.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had tried to contact the relevant Provincial Government regarding the recent elections to establish progress and had received a verbal report that all had progressed smoothly and 12 Councilors were elected with two retained from the previous Council. The point was that even in the case of a dissolved Council not all Members were tainted and retained popular support. The two Councilors retained represented the Democratic Alliance and the Pan African Congress. The existence of a new Council signified a new beginning and the opportunity to restore faith in the Council as a whole. The process would be guided by the recommendations of the Administrator and the Committee. The Development Plan would focus on capacity building and the improvement of the efficacy of the Council. It was important that attention be focused on the ward committees in particular.


In terms of the mentioning of other municipalities, the Chair said that it was envisaged as a comment by the Provincial MEC to Members of the investigating committee that other administrations were being monitored and similar action would be taken if necessary. The next monthly report from the Provincial MEC would contain official results of the recent election and provide an indication of turnout and public participation in the process.

Mr A Moseki (ANC; part of the Committee delegation) added that in terms of arrests and prosecutions, the Administrator would be attending to this following completion of the investigation. Similarly, the training of the staff would receive urgent attention and the Progress Report would indicate the level of success. With regard to ward committees, once the Municipality had been dissolved, the ward committees ceased to function.

Mr Mzizi made reference to the Development Plan and the role of an induction process for incoming Councilors and asked whether this was being implemented in Mamusa.

Mr Moseki responded that following the election, new Councilors would receive induction training in accordance with the Development Plan.

Ms Leo (DA) provided unofficial results of the election as received via cellphone. The ANC received 5600 votes, the PAC 678, the DA 605 and ACDP 306.

Mr Mzizi indicated that the Progress Report would provide important information on the current standing in the Municipality and was eagerly awaited.

Mr L Mokoena (ANC) asked when the Committee could expect to receive a report from the Provincial MEC regarding the intervention into the Municipality.

The Chairperson reiterated that it was important for the Committee to play an active role in the resolving of the issue by weighing up actions taken against established regulations and await the official announcement of the election. It was important that the Committee monitor progress in terms of training of new Councilors and the improvement of the administration. It was important that incoming Councilors receive clear guidelines on their particular line functions. The exit plan of the Administrator had to be understood and the timeframe involved known to the Committee. Would the Administrator provide knowledge and advice to the incoming Council? It was agreed that the Progress Report could be submitted to the Office of the Chairperson and appear in the ATC as a report of the Select Committee.

Investigation into Kannaland Municipal Council
A summary prepared by Parliament's research section was tabled for the benefit of Members to provide background information on developments at Kannaland and allow for future discussion. It was explained that the Section 106 Investigation in terms of the Municipal Systems Act could be regarded as a forerunner to a Section 139 investigation in terms of the Constitution. The Provincial Government of the Western Cape had identified maladministration in the affairs of Kannaland and had established a team to investigate the veracity of allegations and to recommend corrective action. The municipality in question exists in the Klein Karoo and comprises the towns of Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, Zoar and Calitzdorp. In terms of the provisions of Section 106, the Provincial MEC was to table a report to the NCOP on progress made in the investigation and steps taken to rectify the situation. The legislation did not specify the role to be played by the Committee but it was important that the Committee keep a close watch on developments. The issue was to be discussed at the next meeting following perusal of the document by Members.

Mr Mzizi reminded the Committee that the legislation in question imposed a duty on the Provincial MEC to keep the Committee informed of developments on the ground. What is the role of the Western Cape government in this matter?

The Chairperson responded that the municipality concerned fell under the jurisdiction of the Western Cape provincial government.

Mr Worth requested an update on the criminal investigation supposedly under way. Was such an investigation taking place? The report stated that no prima facie evidence existed against Councilors. If so, what was the status of the criminal investigation? Have any corrective measures been taken against the Council?

Mr F Adams (NNP) declared that the task team established by the Provincial Government was still busy with their investigations and these would be finalised soon. Would it not be beneficial if the Committee waited until the finalisation of the investigation?

The Chairperson said that they would wait for the reports but there remained "burning issues" that the Committee needed to focus upon. For example, insufficient budget control had been exercised by a municipal manager and regulatory requirements regarding financial statements had not been followed.

Mr Adams pointed out that an NCOP delegation and Provincial Government representatives would be visiting the municipality during 6 to 10 September to determine progress.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee would await feedback on this visit.

Mr Mokoena recommended that the Committee wait for the report on Kannaland to be completed before further discussions be entered into.

Mr Mzizi indicated that in terms of the Constitution, the Select Committee had the right to summon the Provincial MEC to attend a Committee meeting to provide an update on the investigation. This would assist Members in future deliberations.

The Chairperson agreed with this proposal and indicated that the MEC would be invited to attend a meeting in the near future.

Intervention into Mafikeng
As an introduction, the Chair said that the Committee needed to bear in mind its duties regarding intervention. The decision to undertake an intervention rested with the NCOP and not with the Select Committee. The House could delegate duties to the Select Committee or to an Ad Hoc Committee regarding intervention.

The Chair then noted the original report submitted in October 2003 to the NCOP by its Ad Hoc Committee to consider the application for approval of an intervention by the North West Provincial Government in the Mafikeng Local Municipality and to provide recommendations on the strategy to be adopted. The Provincial Government had decided to intensify the intervention on 10 March 2004.

In addition to the original report he referred to a recent "progress report" from the Executive Mayor of Mafikeng. The Chair commented that the MEC intervened on behalf of the Provincial Government and, therefore, any disputes that might arise from the intervention should be submitted to the Select Committee via the MEC representing the North West Government.

However the Select Committee delegation to the North West province had held a meeting with the Mayor and statements were made that the power of the municipality was being eroded and unilaterally removed. The Mayor was advised to write to the NCOP outlining the issues and concerns. The Mayor had expressed a lack of co-operation emanating from the Provincial Government. The Chair concluded by asking should the Committee refer a matter arising from the Mayor, a stakeholder in the investigation, to the relevant Provincial Government?

Mr Mzizi thanked the Chairperson for the background information regarding the Mayor and recommended that the Chairperson refer the matter back to the Provincial MEC so that they could be afforded an opportunity to respond.

Mr Mokoena added that the Committee should request a progress report from the MEC of the North West Province to ascertain the status of the intervention and balance it with the information gleaned from the comments of the Mayor.

The Chair agreed that the Committee would invite input. The MECs from the two provinces would be invited on different days. He asked Members which report should take precedence. The Committee decided that the Mafikeng Report should be accorded priority. The matter pertaining to the Mayor had been referred to the Committee via an ATC (Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports) of Parliament.

In reply to Mr Mzizi recommending that all relevant documentation should be submitted to North West MEC prior to any meeting in order to assist the process, Mr Mokoena said that this might not be the correct route to follow as it may succeed in creating tension between the Mayor and the MEC and hinder any attempt at resolving the crisis. The possession of the knowledge by the Committee would assist it in future dealings on the matter.

Mr Mzizi agreed that his suggestion of notifying the MEC of the Mayor's position might serve as a catalyst in prompting drastic action by the MEC which was not desirable. For example, the MEC might institute regulations to dissolve the Council.

The Chair thanked Members for the recommendations and agreed to follow the prescribed strategy. The Chair inquired as to where the responsibility for the matter lay, namely, with the Select Committee or the NCOP. Has any report been received by the NCOP as to progress in the implementation of the recommendations? The Committee must continue to monitor and demand feedback on the matter.

Mr Mzizi agreed that some confusion existed with regard to the roles played by the NCOP and the National Assembly in terms of leading a matter such as an intervention into a municipality. This issue still needed to be resolved at parliamentary level as to who took responsibility in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.

The Chair responded that Section 139 tended to focus on the Provincial Government concerned and the NCOP. Members of the National Assembly are informed of the matter by way of the ATC that can on occasion trivialise the issue through short reporting. In terms of Section 139, such matters rest solely with the NCOP that communicates with the Provincial Government and Local Government structures and finalises the issue. The NCOP serves as a regulator between the different spheres of government and attempts to reduce conflict where appropriate. However, circumstances surrounding Section 139 are to be reconsidered as problems do exist. The role of Select Committees in terms of Section 139 needs to be revisited. The Provincial MEC of the North West Government would be invited to attend the next Committee meeting.

Mr Mokoena stated that Members of the Committee were expected to participate in the Women's Parliament occurring on the 20 August and representatives of the Zambian Parliament had requested a meeting with Members of the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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