New Northern Cape municipality will be bigger than Gauteng

2016-05-12 20:26
(Photo: Mariska Spoormaker)

(Photo: Mariska Spoormaker)

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Kimberley - The amalgamation of the Mier municipality in the Northern Cape's Kalahari and //Khara Hais municipality in Upington in the Northern Cape, is to go ahead as planned, creating a municipality bigger, although far less populous, than the province of Gauteng.

"We have consulted very broadly, we've had a number of public participation processes and we are satisfied that the people will be happy with the decision," said Alvin Botes, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC in the Northern Cape on Thursday.

Mier measures 22 468 square kilometres with more than 7 000 people while //Khara Hais is 21 779 square kilometres with 93 000 people. It will become a single municipality after the August 3 local government elections.

The Mier municipality includes Klein Mier, Groot Mier, Rietfontein, Andriesvale, Ashkam among others, while //Khara Hais includes Upington, Raaswater, Louisvale, Kalksloot, Leerkrans, Karos and Lambrechtsdrift. 

"The new municipality will be bigger than Gauteng province in terms of land," Botes said. 

Mier collects approximately R5m in rates and taxes per year, while //Khara Hais collects more than R400m. The number of defaulting households was also high in the poorer Mier municipality.

Botes said public participation meetings were held throughout the area, where some residents were concerned that they would be forgotten.

The seat of the new municipality will be in Upington, 260km from Rietfontein, where the Mier municipality currently resides.

"We are happy that the amalgamation has been largely accepted by the people. There are no protests, no violence, like we’ve seen in other parts of the country."

Abraham Vosloo, the mayor of the Z F Magcawu district municipality – who is overseeing the merger – said the community's fears were taken into consideration. 

"There will be seven satellite offices in the Mier area alone. That, to us, is how the new municipality will work and would be sufficient in dealing with service-related issues. The community will be serviced where they come from," Vosloo said. 

The two municipalities now enter a transition phase, with a committee having been established to look into tariff disparities and bylaw differences between the two municipalities. 
"We have asked our teams to engage in a bylaw process, where we take in consideration the income levels of the people of Mier... [and] //Khara Hais, but our mandate is that at all times our people should not be worse off in the Kalahari. 
"This amalgamation must benefit them, and if it means the people of //Khara Hais will subsidise people of Mier, that has been a directive," Botes said. 
A new name for the municipality will be gazetted by June 15. It was expected to be that of a former struggle stalwart.

The Khomani San community said earlier they had proposed that the new municipality be named after the late former Khomani San leader Dawid Kruiper.

The name will be chosen after consultation with the affected communities.

Read more on:    kimberley  |  local government  |  local elections 2016

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