Thandi Modise, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces

Durban - The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has rejected the KwaZulu-Natal government’s decision to place the Emadlangeni municipality under administration.

This comes after the NCOP’s select committee on co-operative governance visited the municipality last week.

The visit followed the provincial government’s decision to invoke Section 139 of the constitution amid the reported collapse of governance and service delivery in January.

At the time of intervention, the ANC-led municipal council had been embroiled in infighting, with unlawful council decisions allegedly taken.

The municipal manager was also suspended and a person acting in the position reportedly did not meet the appointment requirements.

During the visit, the NCOP committee heard the DA and IFP opposed the intervention while the ANC and EFF were in support.

A department official informed the committee that council infighting spilled into the administration of municipal affairs.

MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube had sent teams to advise the municipality on a number of occasions to no avail.

But the NCOP committee said the constitution required of provincial governments to monitor and support local government, among other things, to carry out their mandate.

“Both the national and the provincial governments are required to support and strengthen, by legislative and other measures, the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions."

“Section 139 of the constitution can only come into play, when all these forms of support have been exhausted,” the committee said in its report.

The committee also said since the intervention was instituted by the KZN government, the administrator has not been appointed.

No progress had been reported on the achievement of the recovery plan, it said, adding that the municipality tried to challenge the intervention in court but later withdrew the case.

While there were challenges with the appointment of senior managers in the municipality, the positions were all advertised at the end of May.

“Other challenges, including the performance of the municipality in terms of the integrated national electricity programme, could still be addressed by providing support to the municipality in terms of section 154(1) of the constitution, instead of the invocation of section 139(1)(b) of the constitution.”

The NCOP has ordered that the South African Local Government Association facilitate training and capacity building for the councillors.

The department was ordered to table quarterly progress reports to the NCOP on the performance and implementation of the Back to Basics pillars in the municipality, including the filling of senior vacant positions.

Spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department was unaware of the NCOP's decision, but would respect it.

He said when the provincial government intervened, it had taken an informed decision to aid the municipality.

Political Bureau