Merging failed Eastern Cape municipalities with other failing municipalities not a solution: DA

JANUARY 30, 2015

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape on Friday said that it was indeed true that the Gariep Local Municipality was a failed authority but said amalgamating it with the Maletswai Local Municipality, as reportedly proposed by Local Government and Traditional Affairs Minister, Pravin Gordhan, was doomed to fail.

“Gariep Municipality was named and shamed by Minister Pravin Gordhan as one of the nine municipalities in the Eastern Cape that are ‘non-viable’ and would either be amalgamated with a ‘viable municipality’ or be turned into a District Management Area. The proposed ‘viable’ municipality is Maletswai Local Municipality: also in great debt.

“Two dysfunctional municipalities will not make one functional municipality,” Marina van Zyl,
DA Caucus Leader - Gariep Municipality, said.

“One fact that the Minister got right, would be that Gariep Local Municipality is not able to sustain itself financially. This municipality is basically bankrupt. In a council meeting yesterday, the latest monthly budget statement clearly shows that this municipality is crippled by debt. It owes a total of R64.2 million to its creditors.”

She said that some of these are:

  • Eskom at R39.2 million;
  • SARS at R5.7 million;
  • Auditor General at R5.2 million; and
  • Pension Funds at R10.6 million.

“This is not a good story to tell.

“In the Auditor General's report, Gariep Local Municipality has received a Qualified audit opinion. This was based on unallocated receipts amounting to a staggering R29.1 million; and Irregular Expenditure at R15,2 million, among other things,” van Zyl said.

“The most worrisome, is that of accountability by the Accounting Officer. The AG points out in its report that ‘the leadership has not fulfilled its oversight role and responsibilities with regard to the implementation and monitoring of internal controls and compliance with laws and regulations’. “The leadership, under the guidance of the Municipal Manager, has not set the tone at the top, and management was not held accountable.”

Van Zyl said that the situation at the Gariep Local Municipality is another example of ANC cadre deployment gone wrong - in the form of an unaccountable Municipal Manager.

“In a DA run municipality, corrupt and incompetent officials would have been fired, like what has been done recently in the Bitou Municipality,” she said.

“I will today be writing to Dorah Matinkca, Shadow MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to ask the MEC of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs how long Gariep Local Municipality must suffer under the administration of this ANC cadre.

“Gariep municipality will only become a viable municipality under a DA government; we will therefore be meeting with communities to explain this poor performance of the ANC to them.

“The communities of Gariep deserve better.”

Other failed municipalities

Minister Pravin Gordhan's  proposals for the other failed municipalities are listed in a Demarcation Board of South Africa circular and include:

  • Ingquza Hill, which covers Flagstaff and Lusikisiki, to be merged with Mbizana municipality;
  • Mhlontlo municipality, which covers Tsolo and Qumbu, to be merged with Nyandeni municipality, which covers Libode and Ngqeleni;
  • Intsika Yethu municipality, which covers Cofimvaba and Tsomo, to form part of Engcobo;
  • Great Kei municipality – which includes the coastal towns of Chintsa, Kei Mouth and Komga – and Ngqushwa municipality, based in Peddie, to be merged with Buffalo City Metro (BCM); and 
  • Ikwezi municipality, based in GraaffReinet, to merge with the Baviaans and Camdeboo municipalities, for the formation of a new municipality.

Stakeholders were invited to make submissions on the recommendations and public consultations have already started in Koukamma municipality.

The deadline for the proposals to be implemented is October.

If stakeholders, reject the recommendations, however, the municipalities will be converted into district management areas, meaning they will be administered by the district municipalities in which they fall instead.

Overly, the proposals to dissolve nine of the province’s 45 municipalities and merge them with more viable neighbouring ones is set to change the face of the Eastern Cape.

Image: Local Government and Traditional Affairs Minister, Pravin Gordhan.