Municipalities that are not functioning properly could well be incorporated into those that are, President Jacob Zuma suggested on Tuesday.
Responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), he told members that the co-operative governance and traditional affairs department, together with the National Treasury, was surveying municipalities in all provinces and preparing recommendations.
“What... we cannot continue doing is to close our eyes to realities; there are municipalities that are non-viable, which therefore cannot do what is expected of them,” Zuma said. A “remedy” was needed.
“Should we retain them? Do we have the finances to pump in to make them viable? Or, do we do something else?”
Zuma declined to predict the outcome of the survey, which was initiated by the Presidential Co-ordinating Council, but said a lot of work was being done to arrive at a decision.
“We are going to work very hard and whatever decision we come to, (then) we have taken the decision.
“Because it is not, to me, the boundaries that are important. I think boundaries are done mainly for administration, though at times people in this country take them as political, hard borders. They are done to ease the work of administration.
“Now, if those municipalities cannot exist on their own, we'll have to decide, all of us, do we either incorporate them into others... or put in more money (to support them).”
“We will need to take a collective decision.
“What we cannot continue to do is to remain with non-viable municipalities. It's not logical,” Zuma said.
Responding to a separate question later, he reminded members that South Africa was a unitary state, and its provincial borders were merely administrative boundaries.
“I know that at times, when people look at the provincial boundaries, they think provinces are countries. They are not... They were meant to make it easy for the administration of the country... ,” he said.
The president's appearance in the NCOP on Tuesday marks the first time a president has come before it to answer questions. - Sapa