Free State premier Ace Magashule had nothing to do with proposals to merge the Metsimaholo and Ngwathe local municipalities, his office said on Tuesday.
“Opposition parties are peddling lies about the Sasolburg matter in order to gain political mileage,” his spokesman Oupa Khoabane said.
“Premier Ace Magashule is not responsible for demarcation processes.”
The Democratic Alliance in the province said in a statement on Tuesday that documents in its possession show Magashule lied about having nothing to do with the proposed merger.
“Premier Magashule lied about his involvement in the proposal to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality,” DA spokeswoman Patricia Kopane said.
Sasolburg falls under Metsimaholo, while Parys falls under Ngwathe.
“In an interview with the Mail & Guardian newspaper last week, Magashule claimed to have nothing to do with the demarcation process, whilst his government made the proposal to the Municipal Demarcation Board in December 2011,” Kopane said.
Protests broke out two weeks ago in Sasolburg's Zamdela township against the proposal to merge the two municipalities. Four people were killed, and several others, including two police officers, were injured. More than 200 people were arrested, and there was substantial damage to property.
Khoabane said only the demarcation board and the co-operative governance department had jurisdiction over demarcation plans.
“This is the same reason why the premier requested (Co-operative Governance) Minister Richard Baloyi and (Free State human settlements) MEC Olly Mlamleli to go to Sasolburg and speak to the community, as they were best placed to deal with the issue.”
He said proposals to merge or split municipalities remained proposals until the board and the affected residents had held discussions and agreed on the matter.
Kopane urged Magashule to make official submissions to the board advising against the merger.
“The premier’s double-speak on whether he wants a merger has every chance of throwing gasoline onto the fire in Sasolburg.” - Sapa