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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
17 October 2005
REDETERMINATION OF THE BOUNDARIES OF CROSS-BOUNDARY MUNICIPALITIES BILL: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr L Tsenoli (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Provincial and Local Government Presentation
Re-determination of the Boundaries of Cross-Boundary Municipalities Bill [B12-2005]
The Department of Provincial and Local Government provided background information and detail on the pending legislation intended to disestablish cross-boundary municipalities and promote sound service delivery. Problems related to the cross-boundary arrangement were elucidated and the dual legislative process to be followed explained. The link to the Constitutional Amendment Bill was highlighted.
Members asked certain questions including whether the existing cross-boundary municipalities would prepare for the local government elections, the role of section 12 notices, levels of public participation achieved, the link of the legislative process to the Local Government election proclamation date, reference to the provincial boundary change between the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal and the support of traditional leaders to proposed changes.
Department of Provincial and Local Government Presentation
Adv Kholong (Department Executive Manager: Administration) stated that 16 cross-boundary municipalities had been established in 2000. The Presidential Co-ordinating Council together with the Premiers of the affected provinces had decided to disestablish cross-boundary municipalities in 2002 for the sake of improved service delivery. Proper consultations and investigations had been conducted to decide on the correct procedure to follow. Certain problems had been identified related to cross-boundary municipalities such as different legislation for similar functions, two different health systems for one municipality, housing subsidisation, different traffic ordinances, challenges for budgets and planning processes and duplicate financial systems. Two pieces of legislation would be combined within the disestablishment process namely the Constitutional 12th Amendment Bill and the Repeal Bill that would deal with all provisions not contained within the Constitutional Amendment Bill. Cross-Boundary municipalities had proved unworkable and the legislation sought to improve service delivery in the affected municipalities.
Mr W Doman (DA) asked whether the Committee would deal with the two Bills simultaneously and how the present Bill related to the work of the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee who would process the Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Mr P Smith (IFP) asked which province would conduct the Local Government elections namely the present one or the newly appointed one in the case of disestablishment of cross-boundary municipalities. Clarity was sought on the link between completion of the demarcation process and the provisions of the present Bill.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) asked about the status of the Bill in relation to the processes that had to be followed with regard to constitutional amendments. Detail was sought on section 12 notices.
Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) noted that wide consultations had occurred during the formulation of the Bill and asked for detail on the types of public submissions received. He requested feedback on the responses of traditional leaders to the Bill.
The Chairperson sought clarification on the consultation process and stated that Members would have to interact with the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Portfolio Committee during the processing of the Bill.
Adv Kholong responded that the two Bills would be considered together. Section 12 notices would have to be issued in newly-demarcated municipalities. The majority of public comment received related to substantive issues such as the organisation of institutions. Institutional arrangements had to be in place before the commencement of the Local Government elections. Consequential administration processes were needed to allow for logistical arrangements. Voting districts and wards had to be included within realigned boundaries. Thirty two responses had been received from traditional leaders.
Dr P Bouwer ( Department Legal Advisor) informed Members that the Constitution had had to be amended in 2000 to allow for cross-boundary municipalities. A dual administration model had been created with two sets of demarcations and two section 12 notices issued by the respective MECs. Two scenarios for redetermination were envisaged. Relocation into one province would not require any changes within municipal boundary demarcation. However, certain cases would require municipal boundary alteration and section 12 notices would accompany such changes. The Bill would come into effect with the advent of the Local Government elections. Municipalities would prepare for the elections based on the proposals. The Constitutional Amendment Bill would go to the provinces for approval after adoption by the National Assembly. The Municipal Demarcation Board had received many public comments separate from those received by the Department.
Mr Smith asked how the various processes would be aligned with the possible proclamation date for elections.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the Independent Electoral Commission and the various MECs possessed an empowering mechanism to make arrangements for elections on the basis of proposed amendments.
Mr Mshudulu asserted that the process of consultation required improved management and asked whether the National House of Traditional Leaders should be consulted on the Bill.
Mr M Lekgoro (ANC) asked why the Bill was classified as a section 75 Bill.
Mr B Mashile (ANC) noted that the proposed demarcations contained within the Bill were different to perceptions on the ground. Some resistance to certain proposals should be expected. Reasonable engagement with municipalities in question had to be undertaken to ensure a smooth process. Certain aspects of the Bill could contradict reality on the ground.
Mr Nonkonyana sought clarity on the level of participation of the poor and marginalised in the public participation process.
Mr Smith asked why the Bill referred to a provincial boundary change between the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal as the only exception. The Bill was intended to deal with municipal and ward delimitations.
Dr Bouwer stated that section 76 of the Constitution had to be followed where a Bill referred to
constitutional provisions. If no constitutional provisions were involved then the Bill would be issued as a section 75 Bill. The Traditional Leadership Framework Act contained certain criteria for referral to traditional leaders. The National House of Traditional Leaders would be approached if a Bill impacted on customary law or traditional customs. No cross-boundary municipalities existed within Kwazulu-Natal. Provincial enclaves existed within neighboring provinces. Municipalities could not be placed in a new province until the constitutional amendment process had been completed.
Adv Kholong added that various communication media had been used to inform rural communities of proposed changes. The intention of the process - to improve service delivery - had been clearly expressed.
The Chairperson stated that the Municipal Demarcation Board would present to the Committee soon to assist in understanding the processes involved. The Committee would also interact with the Constitutional Committee in the course of deliberations. Members should consider the potential effect of legislation and understand the reasons for decisions taken to assist in deliberation and interaction with constituencies.
Mr Nonkonyana added that the support of traditional leaders within the Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal region to proposed boundary changes should not be taken for granted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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