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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
16 November 2004
INTERVENTION IN ELUNDINI MUNICIPALITY: CONSIDERATION
Chairperson: Mr S Shiceka (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Eastern Cape provincial government intervention proposal
The Committee met to consider a proposed intervention by the Eastern Cape provincial government into the Elundini municipality. The Chairperson provided background information on the circumstances around the intervention (in accordance with Section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution) as recorded in correspondence received from the provincial government. The Members agreed that immediate action was necessary and certain Members would visit the municipality as soon as possible.
The Chairperson introduced the possibility of an intervention into Elundini municipality, in terms of Section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution. He focused on general administration issues and financial management concerns. Political instability existed within the municipality and the Mayor had requested that the MEC remove 21 councillors and appoint an administrator to assist in improving conditions. The MEC had interacted with the Council during the year with no improvements, and the situation was now desperate. The MEC had instituted a forensic audit investigation following allegations of financial malpractice. The intervention had begun on 15 October 2004 and the timeframe for implementation was three months. The Committee was expected to approve or disapprove the intervention after 180 days in accordance with Constitution provisions. The MEC had sent a report to the Committee at the end of October and Members were now obliged to act on the matter. The Committee could choose to wait until after the recess before acting, or to immediately begin investigating the situation.
Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC) noted that the correspondence received from the MEC lacked sufficient detail on the role of the provincial government in complying with regulations, and the level of support provided to the municipality before the crisis. No information was available on how the municipality had been performing, such as non-payment of auditors' fees or records of compliance with reporting requirements. Members tended to be informed at the last minute of interventions without any knowledge of preceding problems. The Committee was faced with many interventions and Members had to remain faithful to the rules in evaluating the merits of each case. The Ministry would be interested in the decisions of the Committee and should be consulted. The Committee had to deal with the matter urgently and should not wait until after the recess.
Mr K Mokoena (ANC) stated that councillors had not attended meetings and this had prevented decisions being taken. Therefore the Mayor had requested the removal of unco-operative councillors in the interests of overall efficacy of the municipality. The council was characterised by division and conflict. He agreed that a warning mechanism was necessary to identify malfunctioning municipalities before circumstances worsened. The Committee had no choice but to act immediately.
The Chairperson concurred about such a mechanism and that Committee should visit this municipality as soon as possible. The programmes of Members would be consulted to identify a convenient time for action. The priority was to ensure that services continued for residents. Past experience had indicated gratitude from the people regarding the involvement of the Committee in resolving breakdowns in service delivery. All Members were encouraged to visit, particularly those who originated from the area. The Committee should arrange for provincial MECs to provide an update on the general state of their provinces next year. Input should also be obtained from the SA Local Government Association (SALGA) on conditions within municipalities. The Committee should build up a reservoir of knowledge on the challenges of local government, and strengthen their ability to respond with a more proactive approach.
Mr T Ralane (ANC) recommended that Members interact with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) to determine the level of assistance provided to municipalities.
The Chairperson stated that Members needed to consider the findings of the Auditor-General with regard to financial management within specific municipalities, and discuss common issues with the Finance Committee. Such meetings would occur early in the new year.
The meeting was adjourned.
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