An administrator has been appointed for one of KwaZulu-Natal’s newest municipalities, the Inkosi Langalibalele local municipality in Estcourt.
A delegation of senior officials from the provincial department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) met with councillors in Estcourt on Thursday to introduce Thandolwethu Manda, the man tasked with turning around the fortunes of the ailing municipality.
Manda, a local government expert, has previously served as an administrator at the Abaqulusi municipality in Vryheid when it was put under administration.
The Inkosi Langalibalele municipality was formed in August 2016 after the amalgamation of Imbabazane and Umtshezi municipalities.
However, the first year of existence proved difficult as the municipality was beset with a litany of problems, mostly emanating from it being bankrupt. This resulted in massive problems related to service delivery, with some of the residents even threatening litigation
Late last year, Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube invoked Section 139 of the constitution and issued a notice to place the municipality under administration. The intervention is permitted in cases where a municipality becomes so dysfunctional that it fails to execute its duties.
The IFP, the second biggest party in the ANC-led council, had also called for the municipality to be placed under administration, saying there should be an investigation launched into the circumstances that led to the municipality going bankrupt.
The IFP said the collapse of the municipality was evidence that the ruling party has lost control of its many municipalities.
However, Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the problems experienced by the municipality should not be exaggerated.
“This is a new municipality and it is expected that it will experience some of these challenges. Amalgamation of two municipalities to form this one brought its own challenges,” he said.
Inkosi Langalibalele is one of a few municipalities that were formed after mergers in 2016. The amalgamation led the number of KZN municipalities to decline from 61 to 54 .
Mabaso said Cogta was there to ensure that the municipality was run smoothly and was able to deliver services.
He called on residents of the municipality to pay for services. Mayor Jabu Mbele promised to contact The Mercury yesterday but at the time of writing she had not.