The civic organisation Let’s Talk Komani (LTK) will proceed with its court application to have the local authority dissolved after provincial government refused, stating they would address issues facing the municipality by deploying an administrator again.
This was communicated by MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) Xolile Nqatha, accompanied by the MEC for treasury and delegates from national Cogta and Salga, who met with LTK’s executive on Monday.
LTK is an apolitical, apex body unifying the voice of 27 participating non-governmental organisations with the common intention to ensure adequate services are delivered to the people.
Nqatha said last week the executive committee (Exco) had resolved to invoke section 139 (1) (b) which made provision for the appointment of an administrator, effectively taking over finances, supply chain, corporate services, technical services and all other departments related to service delivery in the Enoch Mgijima Local Muncipality (EMLM).
“This will be done to ensure the implementation of the existing financial recovery plan which the municipality categorically failed to do. The Exco realised the seriousness of the crisis in EMLM and, as a response to LTK’s court application, to have the municipality dissolved as their first solution.”
Nqatha indicated he hoped they would reach an agreement with LTK, but the organisation insisted that a viable remedy would be a dissolution, something the MEC said was not necessary as government was working towards stabilising the EMLM.
“We decided to invoke their second option which was to place an administrator, but they refused. They specifically said they wanted former administrator Vuyo Mlokothi but have now changed their tune. They said trust between us and them had been broken and what we presented was not persuasive enough for them to agree. We respect their view, but as government we will proceed to place the municipality under administration.
“They reserve the right to proceed with the court application and we intend to oppose the application demonstrating to the court that we are doing something to remedy the situation because it would not be helpful to oppose for the sake of it. We need to take practical steps to convince the court that the government is doing something and there is no need for a dissolution. If we are not acting, we have no basis to defend the municipality and ultimately convince the court.”
The Rep understands Cogta was expected to file its affidavit in court, replying to LTK’s charges against it and other organs of the state.
Asked when the administrator would arrive, Nqatha said he did not want to put the cart before the horse because the first step is for the EMLM leadership to table the decision to council, which must accept it.
“I will then visit the municipality to table the administrator’s terms of reference and introduce a team of people that will work together to turn things around. We will only announce when they will start working after that process.”
This is the second time the EMLM will be placed under administration, with the previous administrator – Mlokothi – having been rejected by both the administration in the municipality and staff. Mlokothi was also to work with a team of experts to assist in the turning around of the municipality.
LTK chair and businessman Ken Clark said Nqatha agreed there was common cause for the litigation, but still refused to dissolve the cash-strapped municipality that struggled to pay salaries last month.
“Council sabotaged the previous administrator. What makes them sure that will not happen again? There is no significant political will to turn the situation in the municipality around. There is simply lack of integrity, commitment and intent to resolve problems in our area. Politicians are not willing to accept wrongdoings and yet they expect us to think the same people who created these problems will take us out of them.”
Clark said provincial government believed it could fix EMLM’s problems in a “business as usual” approach with some assistance, whereas LTK believed this had already been tried and had failed.
“Council needs to be disbanded because it failed in its duty to uphold the constitution and its councillors are, in the words of judge Stretch, ‘constitutional delinquents’ and cannot be entrusted with turning the municipality around. We reiterated our belief that there was a leadership crisis, also in management and credibility at the municipality and that civil society had lost faith in its ability to collect revenue. The premier needs to take decisive steps to charge corrupt officials and re-skill the municipality before it has any chance of restoring its legitimacy.”
Clark said in light of the decision by the Exco, the organisation would proceed with the court application as initiated.