Tshwane’s war rooms to fight Covid-19 could face resistance from ANC councillors
Pretoria - Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning and Co-operative Governance Lebogang Maile’s ward-based war rooms to fight against Covid-19 could face resistance from ANC councillors in Tshwane.
The official opposition in the metro has threatened to boycott its implementation, saying this risked undermining them as public representatives.
Maile launched the war rooms initiative last year as the political head of the provincial government department.
ANC regional deputy chairperson Aaron Maluleka, also party caucus chief whip, said war room structures were in force during the departed administrators’ term in office last year and their operations “undermined councillors”.
At the time councillors were out of work following Maile’s decision to evoke Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution to appoint a team of administrators to run the municipality.
Maluleka said: “We want ward committees. We don’t want ward-based structures that are going to undermine people who are elected by communities.
“Let’s have ward committees coming to represent communities (and) not some makeshift structure that its intention is to undermine the existence of ward committees and therefore we are not going to support it in the 68 ANC-controlled wards.”
Maile’s spokesperson Castro Ngobese said: “The primary objective of the war rooms is in the main to work in an integrated and collaborative manner with critical stakeholders to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to ensure that service delivery to communities is not compromised as a result of the pandemic.”
He dismissed the notion that the structures were there to replace democratically elected public representatives. “The focus is to eradicate the coronavirus at local level to the benefit of local communities.”
The department will today host a workshop with councillors to outline the purpose of the war rooms.
Ngobese said the workshop would go ahead as planned, saying he was unaware of any of the parties opposed to it.
“Those who want to politicise the work we do are barking at the wrong door,” he said.
During a recent council sitting it emerged that Katlego Mathebe, the Speaker of the City of Tshwane Metro, had invited the department to talk about the war rooms to councillors.
Mathebe had recently been under fire for allegedly failing to establish ward committees in the city since the DA-led administration came into office in 2016.
In January, the EFF tabled a motion of no confidence against her, but it was disallowed on technicalities.
ANC councillor Terrence Mashigo was concerned about the legal basis for forming the war rooms.
“In terms of the legislation and the local government law any structure that you put across must be in the Municipal Systems Act,” he said.
Mathebe said she didn’t have knowledge of any piece of legislation informing the creation of the war rooms.
“I am requesting the sphere of government to come to the City of Tshwane and share with us the term of reference and tell us what is this structure, what is it all about and how are we supposed to do it.”
She said, according to the brief she had received, the war rooms were supposed to be chaired by ward councillors.
“While we were under administration we didn’t have ward councillors to chair (and) that is why they were chaired by officials.”
She said in municipalities where the war rooms had been rolled out they worked in tandem with ward committees.
Mathebe pleaded with councillors not to pre-empt the outcome of the workshop today, saying they had the right to reject the war room if they had grounds to believe they were not good for the City.