Madonsela to probe Matatiele saga

2012-06-05 00:00

MATATIELE’s ongoing demarcation saga is to be investigated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

At the heart of the probe is why government has failed to release the results of a 2009 secret ballot — conducted in all 26 wards of the town.

It was to gauge whether people wanted their town to remain in the Eastern Cape or to be returned to KwaZulu-Natal.

Mandla Galo of the Matatiele/Maluti Mass Action Organising Committee (MAOC) said the public protector’s office had revived people’s hopes in the area.

Galo said MAOC had written to Madonsela and welcomed “with great happiness the positive indication by her office that they would investigate the Matatiele demarcation saga”.

He added that he had since met investigators from the public protector’s Durban office.

MAOC has waged a seven-year battle to reverse a government decision taken in 2006 that Matatiele become part of the Eastern Cape. The committee took its battle to the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the people of the town needed to be consulted.

A cabinet decision was taken in 2009 that a secret ballot be conducted. This was duly carried out in October that year by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta).

However, the results were never released.

MAOC wrote to Cogta in March 2011 demanding the results of the secret ballot and was told by the late minister, Sicelo Shiceko, that the report on the results had been sent to the cabinet.

“In July 2011 we wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, requesting his intervention.”

When Sisulu failed to intervene, Galo added, MAOC wrote to Madonsela.

“All we wanted was for the speaker to ensure that the cabinet took the matter seriously by releasing the results of the secret ballot and thereafter making a decision on the demarcation according to the will of the people,” he said.

Madonsela could not be reached for comment last night. Her spokesperson, Kgalalelo Masibi, said that she would only be able to contact the Durban office today to get details of the investigation.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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