The Eastern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs through the Provincial Executive Council has taken a decision to dissolve the O R Tambo District Municipal council by invoking section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution.
The decision was taken after the Municipal council demonstrated failure to fulfil its constitutional mandate as result of the following:
• Failure by council to observe internal procedures – Speaker permitted 18 expelled councillors to participate in council meetings. This is in contravention of section 160 (3) and of the Constitution and noncompliance of the Structure Act which deals with quorums and decisions of the council.
• On 30th of June non councillors (expelled) were permitted to participate in the approval of budget.
• In council meetings convened by Speaker reports that were supposed to be presented by Executive Mayor were presented by Deputy Executive Mayor and this is abnormal as it is not provided in law.
• Executive Mayor and Deputy Executive Mayor are litigating each other both purporting to be acting in the interest of the municipality. This ongoing litigation which is costing the municipality millions of rands adversely affected the municipality’s duty to exercise its authority in the best interest of community. This is in contravention of section 4 (2) (a) of Local Government and Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000
• Failure to establish and maintain administration – Municipal office bearers are so in disagreement, so much that it must take court to decide who is the legitimate head of administration. This is another failure by the municipality to establish and maintain its administration. The crisis in the governance of the municipality has led to a situation where the municipality spends more than R 100 000, 00, a month, on VIP security for the Chief Financial Officer.
• Complete disregard of principles of cooperative governance – The complete disregard herein related to the Municipal Council decision to end the section 154 support, even though the extension of the period of support was necessary. This was considered as observation of the provisions of section 41(1)(h) of the Constitution.
• Breach of Code of Conduct applicable to councillors – The OR Tambo District Municipality has seriously been compromised by the conduct of its public office bearers. The incident of the 29th of June 2021 is an example where the Speaker and the Executive Mayor circulated two conflicting memoranda in the municipality, regarding the return of the late Municipal Manager-Mr Hlazo. The Executive Mayor advised the staff that the Municipal Manager has resumed his duties and the Speaker issued a memo disputing Executive Mayor’s memorandum. This demonstrated the breach of Item 2(b) of the Code of Conduct applicable to councillors which requires that a councillor must at all times act in the best interest of the municipality and in such a way that the credibility and integrity of the municipality is not compromised.
• Failure to demonstrate commitment to the objective of the local government by the O R Tambo District Municipality – The notice reminded the municipality that it must at all times demonstrate its commitment to the objectives of local government as stipulated in section 152 of the Constitution. In terms of section 19 (1) of the Structures Act a municipality must strive within its capacity to achieve objectives set out in section 152 of the Constitution. A similar provision is found in section 23 (1) of the Systems Act in terms of which, a municipality must undertake developmentally oriented planning so as to achieve the objectives of local government set out in section 152 of the Constitution.
On the 8th of July 2021, the Provincial Executive Council directed COGTA MEC Hon. Xolile Nqatha to write to the Speaker and Executive Mayor requesting them to provide reasons why section 139 (1) (c) of the constitution may not be invoked in the municipality and request them to respond within fourteen (14) working days. On the 9 th of July 2021 the notices of intention to invoke section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution in the affairs of the O R Tambo District Municipality were issued by the Hon MEC Nqatha and were delivered to both Speaker and Executive Mayor as directed by the Provincial Executive Council. Both Speaker and Executive Mayor gave contrary responses.
The Hon. MEC Nqatha will send a technical team led by a seasoned administrator which will work tirelessly to bring the much-needed stability in the municipality. The decision will remain mute for 14 days before practical implementation.
For further information, please contact: Mr Makhaya Komisa (MLO) on 0663818259 or Mr Mamnkeli Ngam (Department spokesperson) on 071 685 7981