JB Marks Municipality in the North West placed under administration

The JB Marks Municipality in the North West has been placed under administration by the provincial government.

A spokesperson for the North West premier's office, Vuyisile Ngesi confirmed to News24 on Tuesday that the municipality, that includes Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp, had been placed under administration as per a provincial executive committee decision.

A letter from the office of the North West Local Government MEC to the JB Marks mayoral office, seen by News24, shows that the decision was taken on May 2.

The mayor's office was informed of the decision on May 6.

The letter states that the municipality will be under administration for a minimum of six months and a maximum of one year.

The letter does not specify why JB Marks had to be placed under administration.

But the letter states:

"The provincial government… has a legislative mandate to regularly monitor the performance and status of municipalities, provide support, build capacity and intervene where it is necessary. The department has identified areas in the municipality where there is a need to intervene through other legislative measures as there are evident signs of poor administration and governance in the municipality, which negatively affect service delivery."

Allegations of corruption 

Since June 2018, a combination of declining performance as well as an "interventionist" approach by Local Government Minister Zweli Mkhize led to 13 municipalities being placed under administration.

This brought the total number of municipalities placed under administration to 24 since 2016, the Department of Local Government told News24 in November last year.

According to the JB Marks' December 2018 annual report, the municipality received a disclaimer of opinion from the Auditor-General in the 2016/2017 financial year.

It improved to receive a qualified audit opinion the following year - by no means a glowing endorsement of the municipality's financial status, but an improvement nonetheless.

JB Marks was formed when the Ventersdorp and Tlhokwe municipalities merged in 2016. The merger saw months of protests in the area. The municipality has been plagued by allegations of corruption.

The stalling of a development project in Ventersdorp saw the municipality shut down late last year with protests.

In October last year, The Citizen reported that R45m had been spent on upgrading a sports stadium in the area but only one toilet had been built.

The JB Marks municipality told News24 in a statement on Tuesday, "according to the communication received from the province it has identified several areas where it feels the municipality is struggling in relation to service delivery. The purpose of the intervention is to work with the municipality and provide support and build capacity in those areas it has identified. …

"The municipality is responding and providing information to account on all those areas flagged by the province and in which it is thought that it has fallen short. The province will provide a full briefing in this regard to council in the earliest opportune time."

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