Local Govt: Worries over communal land payments

2008-06-08 00:00

THE Ingonyama Trust Board has asked that municipalities tread carefully around the implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Act (MPRA) in rural areas.

The board of the entity responsible for the administration of communal land in KwaZulu-Natal also warned that if not handled sensitively the issue has the potential to worsen the relationship between municipalities and traditional leadership structures in the province.

“We understand that most rural municipalities are struggling and need these rates to rates to survive. We are happy to pay rates in certain circumstances to help the municipalities. The board, however, ask that they [the municipalities] treat this issue very sensitively,” the chairman of the board, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, told members of the legislature’s local government portfolio committee on Friday.

The board’s warning came despite earlier assurances by Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu, that the MPRA will not be implemented in rural residential areas.

Earlier this year Mabuyakhulu also slammed some IFP mayors, saying they were “misleading” rural communities into believing that communal land would now be ratable.

However, Ngwenya said the provincial government has very little say on the matter.

“Nowhere does it say in the MPRA that property administered by the Ingonyama Trust is not ratable. It is up to each municipality to determine its approach on rates in accordance with the act. The [provincial] department [of Local Government and Traditional Affairs] cannot dictate to municipalities but can only act on an advisory capacity as this is a national act.

“The statement [made by Mabuyakhulu] is therefore seriously challenged,” Ngwenya said.

The board has asked that all ìindigenous usersî be exempt from rates. This, according to Ngwenya, has not been accepted by all municipalities.

Mbuso Kubheka, the chairman of the local government portfolio committee, said the committee would arrange for a workshop for traditional leaders and municipalities. “The workshop will seek to establish a common approach and also deal with the lack of co-operation that results in mixed messages being sent out,” Kubheka said.

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