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Western Cape legislature told that it does not have direct oversight over municipalities

Advocate André Le Roux said that the provincial executive was constitutionally obliged to monitor municipalities and their performance. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Advocate André Le Roux said that the provincial executive was constitutionally obliged to monitor municipalities and their performance. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

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Cape Town - Members of the local government standing committee have been told by their legal adviser that constitutionally neither the legislature nor the provincial government has direct oversight of local government.

Advocate André Le Roux, who had been invited by the standing committee to answer questions about the monitoring of local government by provincial standing committees, said municipal councils were accountable only to their voters.

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Le Roux’s remarks were in response to a question from provincial ANC local government spokesperson Cameron Dugmore, who wanted to know why the City, of all the municipalities in the province, had decided that they were under no obligation to provide information to the MEC.

However, Le Roux said that the provincial executive was constitutionally obliged to monitor municipalities and their performance.

“To this end, the legislature can compel the disclosure of information by any person, including a municipality, if the legislature needs that information to have oversight of the department.”

Meanwhile, the legislature is still awaiting a legal opinion requested by the MEC from the department’s legal advisers over whether the City can be compelled to answer questions from MPLs about municipal matters.

There has been a long-running debate over what powers the legislature has over municipalities in the province since the matter was first raised by GOOD Party secretary-general and former MPL Brett Herron in May last year.

At that time, Herron, now an MP, delivered a speech in the legislature in which he complained that over the previous six months, instead of answering written questions relating to governance in Cape Town, the local government MEC had appeared to allow the DA-led City to not respond to his questions.

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Dugmore said on Wednesday: “It seems that the DA does not want the local municipalities to provide information to the legislature as they fear that corruption, nepotism and theft will be exposed.”

He said that the ANC believes that it is unacceptable for the City to refuse to answer questions about itself from MPLs through the MEC.

“It is shocking indeed. We call on mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis to clarify whether his administration has the same view as that of his predecessor, Dan Plato, with regards to the City not answering questions. We believe this is part of our monitoring role.”

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