KZN government wants to intervene in troubled municipalities
Durban - The KwaZulu Natal government wants to have continuous say in troubled municipalities in order to ensure that they don’t collapse once an administrator has left.
This is amid violent service delivery protests in several municipalities in the province.
The change of strategy was announced by the province’s premier, Sihle Zikalala on Thursday in Richards Bay. He said the resolution came out of a provincial cabinet meeting held on Wednesday in Pietermaritzburg.
According to Zikalala, the province has to date a total of nine municipalities under administration. Among them is Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg), Mooi Mpofana and Abaqulusi (Vryheid).
“The Provincial Executive Council directed that heads of provincial government departments visit all municipalities under administration to provide support in line with provision of Section 154 of the Constitution, which requires provincial and national government to support municipalities.
"It is the view of the provincial government that the municipalities must be rid of all the maladies that have paralysed them. The municipalities must be given hands-on support to recover speedily so that they can continue to discharge their mandate as engines of growth and development for their communities on their own,” Zikalala said.
Zikalala justified it by saying putting municipalities under administration has not yielded the desired results as expected.
“We have been able to intervene (put bad performing municipalities under administration) but the intervention is always given a duration, a particular timeframe and in some case you intervene and get out hoping that things are improving.
"That’s why we are saying let us intervene through section 139 but then let us then come with section 154 as well because section 154 empowers (the) government to continue giving support to municipalities. But section 139 is about taking over the administration. So we are saying while we have taken over, even when we exit, let us put in place mechanisms to ensure that the support is sustained,” he said.
Regarding the burning of infrastructure at Dumbe municipality in northern KZN by angry residents demanding clean water, MEC for community safety and liaison, Bheki Ntuli, who was with Zikalala at the briefing, said they have arrested some of the protesters for violence.
“Already there have been some arrests that were effected. Over 20 people were arrested and we are still going to witness more arrests. We are not going to waste time and we are not going to leave no stone unturned for people that are vandalizing state structures,” Ntuli said.
The unrest in Dumbe comes shortly after the shutdown of Newcastle and Ladysmith, the two biggest towns in northern KZN.