Eastern Cape MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Xolile Nqatha. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Eastern Cape MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Xolile Nqatha. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

NCOP approves dissolution of OR Tambo District Municipality

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Aug 20, 2021

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Cape Town - The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) approved the dissolution of the OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape on Friday.

This effectively means that the dissolution of the council is now effective from the 14 days the NCOP was notified by the Eastern Cape MEC of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Xolile Nqatha.

Basil Mase will now act as the administrator until a newly elected municipal council has been declared.

The approval of the dissolution comes after the select committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs, water, sanitation and human settlements held a consultative virtual meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday.

The Eastern Cape government dissolved the council after the support provided to the municipality by both national and provincial Treasuries and the Department of Cogta did not yield the desired results.

The municipality has been facing serious governance and administrative crisis.

In June, the municipal manager was placed on a precautionary suspension following media reports on alleged payments to various companies without having done any work.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had in July signed a proclamation authorising the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to probe the procurement of PPE at the request of Premier Oscar Mabuyane.

A report tabled to the plenary of the NCOP by ANC MP Mandla Rayi said the financial position of the municipality was at the state of brink to collapse with most of the indicators showing signs of distress.

“The 2021/22 financial year irregularly adopted budget was assessed to be un-funded with a shortfall of R15 million, however the magnitude of the shortfall might be higher than National Treasury’s calculation if the credible information can be disclosed,” the report said.

It said the municipality delivered water service to the peri-urban area without recovering any costs of providing the service.

The report also said while the municipality has a low revenue base, there were no efforts to curb an operating expenditure.

The municipality, the report said, owed the National Treasury an R234m, which was accounted as pre-payments in the 2019/20 financial statements.

It also said the council adopted the implementation of the vehicle allowances at an amount of R12 000 and cellphone allowances based on the draft policy that was developed a day before the council meeting.

“These allowances are also being offered to the employees who do not use cars to perform the duties of the municipality.”

The municipality incurred wasteful expenditure which included the hiring of VIP security for the CFO costing more than R100 000 a month and costs incurred by councillors for hotel accommodation for their personal and political activities that were not related to municipal affairs.

The report also showed huge amounts in under expenditure in the grants allocated to the municipality for infrastructure development.

There was infighting among councillors who were divided along the lines of the mayor and the council speaker.

“The select committee has noted with concern, through the inputs made by some stakeholders and the analysis of the report presented, that the relations between the Speaker and the executive mayor have broken down to the extent that the executive mayor is no longer attending council meetings convened by the Speaker, questioning the composition of the council.

“Furthermore, recalled Councillors from local municipalities are always invited to be part of the council meetings by the Speaker, resulting in the composition of the meetings to be questioned,” the report said.

When the NCOP approved the council dissolution, Nqatha was ordered to table the report on the forensic investigation conducted in the municipality and also provide quarterly progress reports on forensic investigation reports conducted by the Special Investigation Unit.

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Political Bureau

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