Elundini and Thaba Chweu Local Municipalities Interventions: consideration

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050221sclocal

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
21 February 2005
ELUNDINI AND THABA CHWEU LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES INTERVENTIONS: CONSIDERATION

Chairperson:
Mr S Shiceka (ANC)[Gauteng]

Documents handed out:
Letter from the Eastern Cape MEC for Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs: Submission of progress report on Elundini intervention
Letter from the NCOP Chairperson, Mr S Shiceka, to Mr M Mahlangu
Letter from the Mpumalanga MEC for Local Government and Housing, Mr M Mahlangu to Mr T Taabe: Decision of 1 December meeting
Letter from the Mpumalanga MEC for Local Government and Housing, Mr M Mahlangu to Mr T Taabe: Notice of Provincial Executive Intervention

SUMMARY
The Committee met to consider correspondence received from the MECs for Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga for provincial interventions in municipalities in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution. It was decided that the Committee would have to invite all MECs to brief Members on their strategies and monitoring systems when dealing with problematic municipalities. The Committee was concerned with the situation in Mafikeng, where the North West provincial government had usurped the powers of the local government, and resolved that the MEC and the Mayor of Mafikeng would have to appear before the Committee to report in this regard.

The Chairperson was concerned by the absence of opposition Members at meetings and their failure to execute their duties properly. The Committee resolved that the Chairperson would approach provincial Premiers and legislatures to address this issue as a matter of urgency. A Member of the opposition was also requested to speak to other opposition Members to convey the Committee’s concerns.

MINUTES
The Chairperson welcomed a new Member of the Committee, Ms F Nyanda (ANC)[Mpumalanga] and noted that her appointed would bring greater gender representativity to the Committee. He noted that there were few Members from the opposition attending the meeting and asked the Committee to consider this a serious matter. He said that it should be noted that NCOP Members, unlike their NA counterparts, were provincial representatives, and not parties’ representatives, as they were appointed by their Provinces to represent them in the National Parliament. If a Member therefore ignored his/her House duties, such as attending committee meetings and oversight visits and only attend to his/her party activities, such a Member would have to be reported to the Provincial Legislature which deployed him/her to the House. He asked Members to pass a resolution empowering the Chairperson to take the matter up with the Premiers to request them to talk to their representatives as their actions could cripple the NCOP.

Mr J Le Roux (DA)(Eastern Cape) shared the Chairperson’s concern that every Member should pull his/her weight when it came to the Committee’s activities. He however appealed that the manner in which this was handled should ensure that there was no animosity among Members.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC)[KwaZulu-Natal] proposed that a mandate should be given to the provincial whips to take this matter up with their respective Provincial Legislatures and request them to see to it that those deployed by them take their parliamentary duties serious and attended to them.

Kgoshi L Mokoena (ANC)[Limpopo] asked that the Committee should take note of the concern raised by Mr Le Roux as it was imperative that harmony should prevail within the Committee. He proposed that the Committee should give Mr Le Roux a mandate to speak to his colleagues and explain to them the consequences of their conduct and that their appointment to the House was the result of a provincial legislature resolution and not a party resolution.

Mr Le Roux, while accepting the responsibility to convey the message, said that it should be noted that he was not the sole representative of all opposition Members. Furthermore, he felt that the matter should still be taken up with the Provincial Legislatures since at times the opposition really found it difficult to attend to all duties due to their small numbers in the House.

Mr Ntuli (ANC)[KwaZulu-Natal] rejected Mr Le Roux’s contention about numbers and reiterated the fact that they were not deployed in the NCOP as parties’ representatives but as full provincial delegates.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had agreed that Mr Le Roux would talk to the opposition Members regarding their participation in Committee activities and that Mr Ntuli would take up the matter with other provincial whips to see to it that the necessary procedures were followed.

Letter from the MEC Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs: Eastern Cape
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had received correspondence from the MEC for Housing, Local Government and Traditional Affairs in the Eastern Cape informing Members about the status of the intervention in the Elundini Municipality in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution. The Chairperson said that although the MEC now sought an extension of the intervention, it was the first time the Committee was informed of the intervention, as it had never received any correspondence from the MEC in this regard.

Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC)[Mpumalanga] noting that the Committee did not have enough information to apply its mind, proposed that they request the MEC to provide them with further information, including the terms of reference of the intervention. He argued that the fact that the intervention could not be finalised within the initial set period, led to the conclusion that the Province was not able to deal with the matter. He thus proposed that the MEC should be informed that the Committee, in terms of Section 139(7) of the Constitution, had the power to intervene in a local government without going through the Province.

Mr Ntuli concurred that the correspondence was not clear on what had actually been done during the intervention.

Mr Mkhaliphi asked whether the Committee had the authority to extend an intervention conducted in terms of Section 139 since the Constitution was silent on this matter.

Mr B Nonyana (Parliamentary Legal Advisor) stated that this was a new phenomenon since the Constitution did not make provision for such a possibility. However, he argued that an extension might be necessary in cases where the initial period was not sufficient to finalise the intervention.

The Chairperson noted that there were two scenarios involved; firstly that of a limited timeframe and secondly, that of no timeframe where the intervention would go on indefinitely as was the case with Mafikeng. He argued that the latter case amount to disregard for another sphere of government as the intervener took over as the de facto government. He asked the parliamentary researcher, Ms L Abrahims, in conjunction with Mr Nonyana, to guide the Committee in developing legislation to close any loopholes that might exist at present.

He also noted that the Committee would defer the matter and would await the response of the MEC to the request for more information. It would thereafter decide whether to invite the MEC, and other affected parties, before it. He added that it was important that the Committee’s recommendations were implemented otherwise it would be reduced to a mere talk-shop.

Mr Nonyana said the Committee was entitled to receive regular reports from the Provinces regarding any intervention initiated in terms of Section 139 and the Constitution also empowered it to review the intervention process on a regular basis.

Mr Mkhaliphi noting the importance of interventions raised a concern with the administration of Parliament as it had received the MEC’s correspondence three weeks prior to it being submitted to the Committee.

The Chairperson noted the concern and proposed that they would have to appoint people who would be tasked to deal with issues of interventions and follow-up, including an investigation conducted in terms of Section 106 of the Constitution. He also proposed that the MEC for Local Government and Housing in the North West and the Mayor of Mafikeng should be invited before the Committee to give a report on the status of the Mafikeng intervention.

Letters from the MEC for Local Government and Housing: Mpumalanga
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had received a letter from the Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr M Mahlangu, informing them that the MEC for Local Government and Housing in Mpumalanga had intervened in the affairs of Thaba Chweu Municipality in terms of Section 139(2). The intervention dealt purely with financial matters within the municipality and the Committee was thus requested to approve the intervention.

Kgoshi Mokoena was of the view that the intervention should also be extended to administrative matters as this municipality was really in crisis. He also proposed that Members should visit the area so that they could see the problems for themselves as he felt the intervention was overdue.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee would invite the Mpumalanga MEC to brief the Members in detail to prepare for a visit to the affected municipality.

Mr Mkhaliphi was of the view that it was important that the Committee should first be satisfied that the MEC had used his monitoring powers before the Committee could approve any intervention.
The Chairperson acknowledged Mr Mkhaliphi’s concern and noted that the Committee would have to invite all MECs to report on the state of municipalities within their Provinces. Therefore, while the Committee would support the MECs when it came to interventions, it should be noted that they should also use their monitoring tools before intervening in the municipality’s affairs.

Nqushwa Municipality
The Chairperson provided background to this matter. While Members were asked to approve an intervention by the MEC, it transpired that there was an interdict in place and as a result, the Committee decided not to take a decision on the matter. He called on Mr Nonyana to give the Committee a legal opinion.

Mr Nonyana noted that he was not sure of the current status of the interdict, but argued that the decision taken by the Committee to wait for the legal process to unfold was the correct course of action. However, the length of time taken in the legal process would have to be considered as it might result in the Committee not having enough time to do its work properly.

The Chairperson was not happy with the advice given by Mr Nonyana and indicated that he would investigate the issue and would advise the Committee at its next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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