Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal government has taken a tough stance on the provision of services, sacking the Mooi River Mpofana council over a lack of service delivery and infighting.
An administrator, Buhle Ally, will move into the council’s offices on September 16 to take over, by which time the councillors – five from the ANC (including mayor Ntombi Mpangase), one from the IFP and one from the DA – must be out.
On Wednesday Co-operative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said she would not tolerate councillors who were destructive and a law unto themselves. She would meet business owners and community organisations tomorrow to discuss the way forward.
“We will not condone such behaviour because, in our mind, the purpose of local government is to deliver services to municipal residents” the MEC said.
This is not the first time the provincial government has dissolved a municipality.
In 2005 the Abaqulusi (Vryheid) Municipality, led by the IFP, was dissolved, also for non-delivery, although the move was regarded as political by the IFP.
In recent weeks there has been a spike in service protests in Mooi River, which spilt on to the N3 near the toll plaza.
Motorists were stoned and tyres were burnt as residents vented their anger at the local government’s incompetence. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Mzoxolo Mpolase, of Political Analysis South Africa, said the mass firing showed the ANC administration was serious about the provision of services.
“This will quell protests and unrest, but we are yet to see if it solves the problems that were a cause of the protests. Things are going to become clearer after the by-elections when the new council takes over.”
DA MPL George Mari said the party had been calling for a stringent approach on ailing municipalities for some time.
“Sending administrators to help municipalities get back on track costs money. But we view it as a good thing when the government finally realises that removing senior officials is the best thing to do. We will be watching Umvoti (Greytown) and Abaqulusi because there are also issues of infighting in those councils.”
The IFP’s Blessed Gwala said Dube-Ncube should not be applauded too quickly as the ANC called opposition parties to order when they raised concerns about service.
“All I can say is that the chickens have come home to roost because, when we told the ANC-led cabinet that things were in shambles in municipalities, they ignored us and called it sour grapes because we didn’t win the elections,” he said.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesman Msawakhe Mayisela said by-elections would be held within the next four months. Until then the provincial government would oversee service provision.
Mayisela said the municipality had scored 47.54 percent for its Integrated Development Plan in the 2013/14 financial year, which was below the provincial average of 77.9 percent.
The municipality also regressed from two unqualified audits to a qualified audit opinion in the last financial year.
An assessment found that all supply chain management regulations had been disregarded and the lack of financial controls created a situation in which abuse was rife.
Mayisela said the council had been given an opportunity to remedy the situation and had been supported by the department, but had failed to turn things around.
ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the party fully supported Dube-Ncube’s decision.
“If councillors fail to perform their duties then they must vacate their position irrespective of which political party they belong to,” Zikalala said.