‘Shongwe misleads Balfour residents on municipal demarcation’

2015-03-17 16:15

The Democratic Alliance has called on Mpumalanga safety and security MEC Vusi Shongwe to retract his promise to Balfour residents that their municipality would be demarcated back into Gauteng.

Following a violent protest over the Municipal Demarcation Board’s plans to amalgamate the municipality with Lekwa in Standerton, Shongwe, cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Refilwe Mtshweni and telecommunications and postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele visited Siyathemba township near Balfour last week.

Residents had torched mayor Sarah Nhlapho’s house and vandalised the South African Social Security Agency and multipurpose centre offices last Thursday.

Shongwe told the protesters that the ANC’s Mpumalanga provincial executive committee had taken a resolution that Dipaleseng local municipality should be re-demarcated into Gauteng.

President Jacob Zuma made this promise when the community protested in 2010, but it was not kept. The residents wanted to be in Gauteng because they were using its hospital in Heidelberg and they would be closer to their government than they were now under Mpumalanga.

The DA’s Mpumalanga legislature member, Bosman Grobler, said Shongwe misled the community because he had no authority to change municipal boundaries.

“Removing a community from one province and amalgamating it with another province is not simply a cut-and-paste exercise. This process is closely guarded by the Constitution and is likely to require an amendment to the Constitution,” Grobler told the legislature today.

“MEC Shongwe’s promise demonstrates the extent to which the ANC-led government is out of touch with the needs of communities and how false promises are used to disguise their inability to lead,” he added.

Shongwe’s spokesperson, Joseph Mabuza, however said that Cwele made the announcement.

“Cwele communicated the message and the relevant government departments will now process the decision. MEC Shongwe does not interfere there,” Mabuza said.

Community leader and Socialist Civic Movement councillor Dumisani Zwane also confirmed that Shongwe communicated the decision.

“We’re expecting a formal confirmation in writing. This promise is more definite than the previous one because the ANC provincial executive committee has taken a resolution,” Zwane said.

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