Battle looms over Makana dissolution as council plans to appeal landmark ruling

2020-01-23 21:59
Members of the Unemployed People's Movement celebrate outside the High Court in Makhanda after the court ruled that the Makana Council be dissolved and the municipality be put under administration. (Sue Maclennan, Grocott's Mail)

Members of the Unemployed People's Movement celebrate outside the High Court in Makhanda after the court ruled that the Makana Council be dissolved and the municipality be put under administration. (Sue Maclennan, Grocott's Mail)

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The Makana Municipality has confirmed it will appeal a January 14 ruling that its council be dissolved and the municipality be put under administration, Grocott's Mail reported.

Meanwhile, the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) has vowed to ensure the order is enacted immediately, saying an appeal could see urgently needed remedies delayed for up to a year.

Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa this week described as unfortunate Judge Igna Stretch's ruling handed down in the high court in Makhanda last week. The judge declared the Makana Municipality non-functional in terms of administrative functioning and service delivery and therefore invalid.

Mpahlwa said the municipality would appeal because the judgment hadn't acknowledged significant improvements to service delivery and administration over the past five years. He said in addition Makana's dissolution would set a precedent that could affect every municipality in South Africa.

Judge Stretch ordered that the Eastern Cape executive immediately implement a recovery plan to make sure the municipality provides basic services and meets its financial commitments. She also ordered that the provincial executive immediately dissolve the council, appoint an administrator until a new council is elected and approve a temporary budget to keep the Makana Municipality functional.

The UPM was the successful applicants in a victory celebrated by residents across the town.

However, at a media briefing on Wednesday 22 January, the institution's political and administrative leadership insisted that the city is in fact on an upward trajectory.

"We have turned a corner," Mpahlwa said. "The court's decision was based on the circumstances of 2014."

He said they were investigating why important information had not been put to the court. This included that an updated version of the financial recovery plan was in operation and that there was a visible improvement in service delivery.

'A different court will come to a different decision'

"We are confident because we believe if we put across the things that we've done, a different court will come to a different decision," Mpahlwa said.

Makana's dissolution would have a domino effect across the country. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane last week indicated that while he welcomed the judgment as a wake-up call for local government, the precedent it would set meant the province was likely to oppose it.

"I agree with the premier – it would set a very serious precedent," Mpahlwa said. "If this judgment compels us to be dissolved, every municipality, without exception, will be dissolved.

"Because all the municipalities are in the same situation, where they're not able to recover 100% from the residents for the services they are expected to provide. It's on this basis that this will create a very difficult situation for municipalities across the country."

"Any municipality can deliver services only to the extent of the funds available," he said. "As a municipality, we are owed more than R500m by residents, businesses and some government departments.

"We owe our creditors less than R200m. So if we were to get all of that money we would be able to pay all our creditors and still have money to deliver services."

Read the full story on Grocott's Mail

Read more on:    east london  |  service delivery
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