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Johannesburg - Gauteng's co-operative governance department has welcomed the Municipal Demarcation Board's announcement on municipal boundaries, MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said on Tuesday.
“We welcome this great decision that will ultimately consolidate municipalities and usher (the province) towards the single-tier form of government”, Mekgwe said.
The province would never be the same again. It would have eight municipalities instead of the current 12, he said.
Earlier, political parties differed on the merger of the Midvaal and Emfuleni local municipalities, and the Sedibeng district municipality, into a single metropolitan municipality.
The merger was among 157 cases the municipal demarcation board (MDB) published, detailing what changes would be made to certain municipalities following the 2016 municipal elections.
The African National Congress in Gauteng welcomed the proposed creation of the new metropolitan municipality.
“The ANC Gauteng welcomes the final ruling of the demarcation board to merge Emfuleni and Midvaal municipalities towards a Vaal Metropolitan River City,” it said in a statement.
“The ruling is supported by the ANC because it will bring development and prosperity in the area of Midvaal. The merger will benefit the poor areas in Midvaal and fast-track development and housing delivery.”
The ANC said the metropolitan system of governance in Gauteng worked much better in bringing about development and service delivery.
Municipalities under the metropolitan system were more able to attract revenue and deliver services, than small district municipalities.
However, the Democratic Alliance said it would consider approaching the courts to halt the merger.
“The decision announced by the municipal demarcation board today (Tuesday) to merge Midvaal municipality in Gauteng with Emfuleni municipality is politically motivated,” local government spokesman Fred Nel said in a statement.
It did not adhere to the requirements of the Municipal Demarcation Act, he said.
“The MDB clearly bowed to ANC pressure to go ahead with the merger despite thousands of objections .”
The ANC said the MDB's ruling was appreciated because the DA-controlled Midvaal municipality had made communities “suffer for many services”, including housing and sanitation.
In addition there was substantial evidence from a Special Investigating Unit report, and the Public Protector, which had pointed to corruption in the Midvaal municipality, the party said.
Nel said it boggled the mind why the merger had been given the go-ahead while the proposed merger of the Metsimaholo and Ngwathe municipalities in the Free State had been withdrawn following violent protests.
The withdrawal had taken place even though it met more demarcation criteria than the Midvaal proposal.
The DA would ask the MDB to provide reasons for deciding to go ahead with the merger, despite objections, and would wait for the board's response to its submissions.
MDB chairman Landiwe Mahlangu said the board had received almost 10 000 objections to the cases it had published, with the majority of those objections from Gauteng.
“We have reached the final leg of this cycle and made the final determination of the cases that were before the board,” he said.
“In reaching its final determinations, the board was by law expected, based on objections received, to either vary, confirm, or withdraw its decision on a particular case.”