Redrawing KZN will cost

2014-12-10 00:00

THE monumental restructuring of KwaZulu-Natal’s municipal boundary maps could cost the provincial coffers nearly half a billion rand.

In what is being hailed as the country’s biggest shift in how boundaries are constituted, the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) will have to — through a complex process — unbundle established municipalities and amalgamate them into new legal entities.

The “ward delimination process” which will see the collapse of certain municipalities and an increase in councillors at others across the country, was launched yesterday by the Municipal Demarcations Board on the KZN South Coast. The MDA hopes to complete the process by August 2015.

The event, attended by over 1 000 people including national deputy minister for Co-operative Governance Andries Nel, was not without controversy when deputy chairperson of the chapter nine institution — the Electoral Commission — Terry Tselane during his speech, mistakenly exchanged the acronym “ IEC” with “ANC” before quickly correcting himself.

While the new boundaries are not yet legally binding and would first be part of a lengthy consultation process, five of the eight municipalities in KZN proposed for collapse are those where the National Freedom Party maintains a strong presence and is in shared governance with the ANC. Nhlanhla Khubisa, the NFP’s general secretary, said they suspected “political undertones” in the demarcation process.

“The rationale has not been clearly elucidated. The proposed demarcations seem to be in areas where the NFP is in control. We have been complaining about this,” said Khubisa.

MDA chairperson Jane Thupana said both the Western Cape and KZN were the most affected by the changes.

“In KZN there is a proposed reduction of seven municipalities. No municipality is being swallowed. The municipalities being amalgamated will be disestablished and a new entity will be created,” she said.

Tselane said he hoped the MDA met their deadlines to avert any “political tensions” and to protect the credibility of the 2016 local elections.

He then said: “This is why we as the ANC … IEC [want this process to succeed]”.

Cogta MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said it is anticipated that KZN will drop from 61 municipalities to 54 or fewer.

Cogta spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department believes the delimitation could cost the provincial government more than R400 million.

“There will be issues of duplication of senior positions and how best to rectify this as well as local bylaws from the current municipalities which will need to be re-examined. Issues of where the councils will sit will also need to be discussed.”

He said the reconstitution of the boundaries of municipalities and wards would be more coherent to local needs such as being in line with traditional authority boundaries.

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