Politics / 18 October 2019, 17:23pm / Molefi Sompane
Sasolburg: Like it happened not so long ago, Metsimaholo seems to be going the same route it went when the council collapsed and provincial government imposed SECTION 139 to its council.
By law, the Constitution of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, permits the Provincial Government to intervene when Local Government Council fails to deliver on its obligations as stated in Chapter 7 of the Constitution. The Provincial intervention is provided for under SECTION 139 of the Constitution.
SECTIONS 136-150 of the Municipal Finance Management Act of 2003 also outline the detailed Legal Framework for the Provincial intervention in the affairs of the Council.
While this piece of legislation grant the MEC of CoGTA powers Powe to intervene The Insider spoke to the MEC Thembeni Ncangisa’s Spokesperson Zolile Lobe who added that: “The Provincial Government, through the MEC for CoGTA, can intervene in the Municipal Council if the following is applicable:
• The Municipality has failed in its Executive obligations
• There are financial problems in the Municipality
• The Municipality has failed to approve their budget or any revenue-raising measures
• The Municipality is in persistent and serious breach of its obligations to provide basic services to the community or
• The Municipality admits that it is unable to meet its obligations or financial commitments
As soon as the Department has established that any or more of these conditions are applicable, the Department will do an assessment on the gravity of the situation. The first step will be to consider how to get the Council to operate in a better way, and how the Province can assist the Council to meet its obligations.”
While the Metsimaholo has once put under the said legislation Lobe is afamant that they only step in once the department has found that council has been failing to exercise its powers.
“The Department will help the Municipality in preparing an appropriate recovery plan and recommend changes to the Municipality’s budget and revenue-raising measures.
In a case that the Municipality cannot perform after this intervention, the MEC will then invoke SECTION 139 (1)(b) of the Constitution, which allows the MEC to appoint an Administrator to take over the Administrative responsibilities of such a Municipality or call for the dissolution of such a Council.
As soon as the MEC decides to intervene in a Municipality, they will inform the Provincial Executive Council (cabinet) and seek concurrence of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP),” he said.
According to Lobe the council of Metsimaholo Local Municipality is currently governed through a coalition made up of political parties that are represented in the Municipality. This came after the elections which took place in 2016 where none of the political parties which are represented in the council could constitute the leadership of the council on their own, as none had a clear majority in the Council.
“After the 2016 elections, the Municipality continued to hold its regular and scheduled meetings. The challenges in the Municipality started when the Council sittings could not materialise. This was either as a result of lack of quorum or the meetings would be abandoned by those in attendance.
The first meeting was meant to convene on the 21st August 2019, and the last one was meant for the 14th October 2019. Both sittings could not materialise due to the above mentioned. The Council is scheduled to sit on Monday, 21st October 2019,” he said.
He added that talks between Bloemfontein and Sasolburg has been established which avoidance of what happened before.
“The MEC for CoGTA has tried to assist the Municipality through seconding an official from the Department, Mr Teboho Manele with the aim of assisting the Council in its Administrative capacity. The Council must have a sitting where this secondment will be adopted by the Council.
In the process of the failure of Council meetings to convene, they have not adopted the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) as expected. The MEC intends to use the Monday, 21st October 2019 sitting to call upon the Council to focus their energies on executing their executive and financial obligations.”
The insider believes that MEC takes the events of Metsimaholo as political stalemate by coalition partners although nothing has been reported to the department.
Lobe added: “The uncertainty amongst the coalition partners is a political issue that can only be responded to by the political parties which are involved in the coalition. As the Department, we are not aware of the tensions between the coalition partners.”
Meanwhile, many councils in the Free State and around the country have been experiencing financial woes in paying their staff.
Lobe agreed that by law they are bound to intervene if any municipality experiences defficulties in paying their workers.
“The Constitution of South Africa, Act 108, requires the Provincial Government, through CoGTA, to assist Municipalities in their executive and financial obligations. Local Government as a sphere of Government that is autonomous and distinctive is supposed to raise its own revenue to meet its financial obligations.”
“The reality is that some of the Municipalities do not have enough revenue to meet the challenges as stated in the Constitution, Chapter 7, under objectives of Local Government. The National Government gives Municipalities a portion of the nationally generated revenue through the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA). Municipalities are also given grants by National Government.”
He admitted that CoGTA has also provided help to the municipalites.
“The Department has helped some Municipalities in the Province by allocation of money which was used to pay workers. The Provincial allocations are meant to assist Municipalities to meet their executive and financial obligations.”
“The Province also assists Municipalities through allocating personnel that will assist them in developing strategies for budget and revenue-raising measures.
The Provident Funds of the employees are made up of the contributions their own pension and the contribution of the state (Council). Municipalities are instructed to observe, without fail, their contribution and payment to this fund, which will benefit employees upon their retirement.
The Department has noted, with concern, that some Municipalities were not paying the contributions of the Provident Fund, which would adversely affect the workers. As the Department, we have issued a clear call to Municipalities to desist from this act as it is both illegal and unjust,” he concluded.
Meanwhile the department hopes to see the scheduled council sitting of the 21st October go successful.