Premier David Makhura says he is not abusing power by placing Emfuleni municipality in the Sedibeng region under administration.
PREMIER David Makhura has rejected allegations that his tough stance of poor governance was aimed at targeting political opponents ahead of the ANC’s upcoming provincial conference.

Yesterday, Makhura - also acting ANC provincial chairperson - detailed reasons for his decision to place Emfuleni municipality in the Sedibeng region under administration. This follows persistent financial woes that crippled the municipality’s capacity to deliver services.

Makhura’s move saw Emfuleni mayor Jacob Khawe tendering his resignation, before the party’s provincial leadership asked him to reverse it and continue to serve.

The ANC Youth league said the decision was part of attempts by Makhura to neutralise those he did not want to serve with ahead of the conference, during which he is set to be elected provincial chairperson.

The league is leading a grouping within the ANC pushing for Khawe to contest current provincial secretary Hope Papo, who is seeking re-election. It also wants former ANCYL provincial chairperson and current economic development MEC Lebogang Maile to become deputy chairperson.

Yesterday, Makhura said he had confidence in Khawe as mayor in the municipality, but he had no choice but to intervene to ensure stability. “ANC conferences come and go. We cannot sit and wait for them to deal with service delivery. I am premier of this province. If there is a problem in a municipality in Gauteng, leave politics out of it. I cannot sit back.

“If that municipality collapses and there is no services there, the communities rise.

"They say I must explain because I was afraid to intervene because the constitution says that is what provincial government must do.”

Makhura said he was unfazed by those who called his decision to take over the control of the municipality politically motivated. The ANC-led alliance in the region had welcomed his intervention into the municipality, he said.

“I have a job to do as the premier of Gauteng. I intervene there with a clear conscience. This intervention is required. I will do that anywhere in the Gauteng province, regardless of which party is governing when I have to. We do not want to politicise service delivery,” Makhura said.

Since November 2015, provincial treasury and the co-operative governance department had been working with the municipality with the aim of providing institutional support and help strengthen the municipality’s capacity to perform its functions, but things had worsened, he said.

Despite the hard work by Khawe and the leadership in the municipality, the financial position of the municipality had deteriorated to a point where it was unable to provide basic services,” Makhura said.

“What started as a financial problem has now become a problem of service delivery.”

Emfuleni is one of the country’s many municipalities that did not have an adequate revenue base to fund its budget, as it was located in financially distressed areas.

Eskom and Rand Water had sometimes switched off water and electricity supply in some areas of the municipality as the they demanded payment for their services.

The intervention over the next six months will include enhancement of revenue collection and service delivery with a focus on stormwater infrastructure, sanitation, cleaning and waste management and human settlements.