Cross-Boundary Municipal Laws Repeal Bill: Department and Municipal Demarcation Board briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

14 November 2005
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 November 2005
CROSS-BOUNDARY MUNICIPAL LAWS REPEAL BILL: DEPARTMENT AND MUNICIPAL DEMARCATION BOARD BRIEFING


Chairperson:
Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Cross-Boundary Municipal Laws Repeal Bill [B36-2005]
Proposed Amendments to the Cross-Boundary Municipal Laws Repeal Bill [B36-2005]
Provincial and Local Portfolio Committee Annual Report January 2005 – December 2005
Tabling of Annual Reports and financial statements

SUMMARY
The Department of Provincial and Local Government and the Municipal Demarcation Board briefed the Committee on progress with the Cross-Boundary Municipal Laws Repeal Bill [B36-2005]. The Bill had not yet been finalised. The Department stressed the procedure of amending the Bill. The target date for the finalisation of the Bill was still projected for 9 December 2005. Members questioned the legal implications of the Bill in relation to the forthcoming local government elections.

MINUTES
Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG) and Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) briefing
Dr Petro Bouwer, DPLG Executive Manager briefed the Committee on the progress of the Bill. The Bill was being debated and would be sent to the provincial legislatures. Proposed amendments had been prepared but had not been finalised. The Bill would be adjusted once the MDB had published its report. The presentation of the finalised Bill could be provided to the Committee by 30 November.

Dr Vuyo Mlokoti, MDB Chairperson, noted that there was confusion around the time-frame and publications of the Demarcation Board. There was a conflict around the Demarcation Board boundaries and the municipal boundaries. The proposed Bill was being published to align the provincial boundaries debate with the municipal boundaries debate.

Dr Bouwer added that the afternoon debate on the Constitution Twelfth Amendment Bill was significant because Parliament would have adopted certain proposals regarding the alignment of provincial boundaries. It would provide a clear indication to the MDB of the confirmation of the provincial boundaries at the current stage. Previous debates had not reached the stage of finality that would be possible after the afternoon debate. The provincial boundaries would have to be prepared for the local elections.

Discussion
The Chairperson requested that an explanation of the confusion between the provisions be provided.

Dr Mlokoti noted that the Constitution gave the MDB and Parliament the authority to alter provincial boundaries. It was suggested that a conflict of roles should be avoided. He commented that the MDB was looking at the objections surrounding the time-frame. The published proposals would not include all the proposals due to time constraints. The finalisation of the recommendation would be done by 9 December. The recommendations could not be completed until it had gone through the correct procedures.

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) asked whether the upcoming weekend of registration for the local government elections would be the last one.

Dr Mlokoti responded that there would be targeted registration after the weekend's registration.

Mr M Lekgoro (ANC) asked whether it was legal to proceed with the election without procedures being finalised.

Dr Mlokoti noted that no time was available to address procedure issues. The election period would allow space for the discussions to proceed.

Mr M Lekgoro (ANC) asked how, in terms of the community disagreements, it would be resolved.

Dr Mlokoti stated that municipal boundary issues did not pose a problem. The provincial boundaries debate needed intervention by the leadership of South Africa.

Mr Nonkonyama (ANC) asked what was the potential for litigation taking place.

Dr Bouwer noted that litigation was always a possibility. The current time-frame and the two Bills that were being discussed in Parliament would give certainty to the country.

The Chairperson noted that the discussion was a working and consultative process. The main concern was that the process should be brought to finality. He asked whether amendments could be made to the Constitution every five years.

Dr Bouwer responded that he was not aware of the amendments. He noted that placing a schedule into the Constitution provided a vehicle for reconsideration of provincial boundaries. The boundaries were in Schedule 1 of the interim Constitution and can be used as a point of reference. There were two ways to realign provincial boundaries: (1) elaborate the description of amending the boundary or (2) create different mechanisms to determine boundaries.

The Chairperson queried how often amendments could be made.

Dr Bouwer replied that it was a prerogative of Parliament.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee would be awaiting the final determination from the MDB. Regarding the timeframe, Members would have to come back in December to discuss the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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