Municipality was currently in disarray and without a political head – premier
THE PHOKWANE Municipality has been dissolved with immediate effect and by-elections are scheduled to be held in the next 90 days.
Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul, on Tuesday said that he was not sure how the by-elections would take place if Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were still in place.
“We will subject ourselves to the processes of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) because all by-elections have been cancelled during the lockdown.”
He added that the municipality was currently in disarray and without a political head.
“The municipality had two mayors and two speakers, resulting in financial and legal constraints.
“This confusion permeated into the administration and resulted in the dual convening of municipal council meetings. Conflicting instructions were issued to the administrator and officials. The manifestation of political dynamics within the council further circumvented the implementation of the recommendations of the Section 106 report which investigated serious malpractices at the municipality.
“The Phokwane Local Municipality has faced political and administrative challenges in the recent past, more so over the last four years.”
Saul said the Municipal Manager, who was seconded to the municipality to stabilise the administration, was removed forcefully “without just cause”.
“This was followed by the resignation of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in 2017 and the end of the contract of the Director of Technical Services. This instability triggered governance challenges in the municipal council which resulted in a number of issues.”
He stated that the departments of the Co-operative Governance Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) and Provincial Treasury had been assisting with institutional capacity, finances and human resources with the aim of ensuring that communities were provided with the necessary services.
Saul added that the municipality “vehemently resisted and legally opposed” the intervention of the Provincial Executive Council (PEC) after it was placed under administration on March 27 2019, but lost the urgent application to interdict the intervention.
He indicated that the municipal council failed to implement and maintain proper and diligent financial accountability and compliance in line with the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act.
“This municipal’s downward spiral led to the disruption of council meetings by expelled councillors.
“Council was not able to meet, within the specified time-frame, to approve the annual budget for the 2019/20 financial year.”
He added that council also failed to appoint senior managers and a CFO, approve the mid-year budget, approve the performance assessment report and approve the 2019/20 adjustments budget.
Saul stated that the community did not have access to essential services, including an uninterrupted water supply, as required by the National Water Act.
“The unfortunate sequence of events at the Phokwane Local Municipality has been unfolding at the expense of the people and robbing communities of basic service delivery. It is in this context that, after numerous interventions and for the benefit of the people of Phokwane, the municipal council is hereby dissolved, with immediate effect.”
He said the PEC had delegated the MEC of Coghsta to publish the powers and functions of the administrator who would be supported by an administration team, a financial expert and an engineer from the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency.
“All the necessary processes will be put in place to ensure that by-elections are held.”
He believed that the municipality would now be in a better position to work with the Department of Health to deal with the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We need a strong municipality to deal with the epicentre of the pandemic that is in the Phokwane District.”