North West MEC sends administrator into JB Marks, but municipality and councillors fight back

2019-08-29 14:08
North West Premier Job Mokgoro. (Gallo Images, file)

North West Premier Job Mokgoro. (Gallo Images, file)

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The North West Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Gordon Kegakilwe has approved terms of reference for the involvement of an administrator in the troubled JB Marks Municipality in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution, which allows provincial governments to intervene in the running of municipalities.

It is understood, from sources in the JB Marks council that an administrator has already been appointed and has arrived at the municipality.

News24 has seen the five-page terms of reference notice, signed by Kegakilwe and dated August 26, 2019.

The department's spokesperson, Dineo Thapelo, confirmed the authenticity of the document.

"When an administrator is appointed, he/she has TOR (terms of reference) that serve as a guideline on what he/she must concentrate on for the duration of the intervention," she explained.

Intervention team

The document outlines the administrator's mandate, his/her role in the municipality, the arrangement between the administrator and municipal officials, and the roles and responsibilities of experts and the intervention team.

The terms of reference note that one of the administrator's roles is to facilitate "the improvement of governance and administration within the municipality".

The administrator is also tasked with taking "corrective action on irregular expenditure incurred".

The document also ratifies that the administrator "takes over all the executive obligations/functions of the municipality", while also assuming all the municipal manager's powers and mandates. 

The municipality, however, did not confirm receiving the notice and only said it would find out whether it had been placed under administration at Thursday's council meeting.

"The last time the municipality engaged with the provincial government in any meaningful manner was when technical committees from both institutions worked on compiling technical documents for the consideration of the premier and his executive council.

"Since then the executive mayor indicated that the provincial government has requested to come and address council on this matter. Council is convening tomorrow (Thursday) and it is then that we will officially know whether the administrator is indeed appointed and on what terms of reference," spokesperson William Maphosa told News24 on Wednesday.

While Thursday's meeting has started, it's understood that there have been several delays as councillors from across the political spectrum question the steps taken to appoint the administrator.

READ | JB Marks Municipality in the North West placed under administration

On May 6, the province communicated its intention to place the municipality under administration, but this was rejected by the municipality on the basis that there was no proper consultation leading up to the decision.

Municipal spokesperson Victor Boqo previously told News24: "Yes, indeed it is true that JB Marks council took a decision to reject the MEC's letter to put us under administration on the basis that we were not consulted and also, our municipality is financially stable and no service delivery is compromised."

READ | JB Marks council rejects North West govt's decision to place the municipality under administration

JB Marks Municipality has been the subject of controversy, rocked by a list of claims detailing alleged fraud, corruption and maladministration in a previously leaked document News24 has seen.

That document detailed alleged irregular expenditure in several projects, such as the Sarafina Stadium, the Appeldraai access road, the construction of roads, ghost payments, overtime payments, irregular appointments, as well as fraud and corruption, among others, as reasons why the provincial government should intervene and take over the running of the municipality, News24 earlier reported.

In addition, News24 previously reported that the appointment of a chief labour relations officer was being called into question, citing that the 2017 appointment of Giyani Freddy Makamu was "unlawful and illegal", adding that "he did not have the relevant BA degree and diploma upon which reliance was placed for the application of the post and does not meet the requirements for the work".

READ | More woes for troubled JB Marks Municipality as cloud hangs over chief labour relations officer's appointment

News24 has also seen a legal document, sent on behalf of a councillor, stating an intention to interdict the provincial government from invoking a Section 139 notice.

While it has not been confirmed, the legal letter addressed to the office of Premier Jobs Mokgoro on August 26, 2019 states: "Our instructions are to lodge an urgent application interdicting the provincial exco should it proceed with the implementation of the 139 (1) (b) decision".

In addition, the legal letter states the reasons behind this move can be attributed to the department's failure to follow proper procedure prior to issuing a Section 139 intervention in accordance with its "provincial policy manual on procedural requirements before intervention" which states that directives should be issued to the municipality.

"Should the directive prove to be unsuccessful, and the department decide to assume responsibility, it will notify the municipality again, allowing it to dispute the non-fulfilment of the contents of the directive. The latter was never done by the department," the letter read.

It further states that due to the department's failure to allegedly follow proper procedure, it is "clearly in contravention of the department's own provincial policy manual on procedural requirements before the intervention in terms of a S139 (1) (b) of the Constitution".

Thapelo told News24 in response: "The department has not received any legal letter/notice from the municipality." 

The office of the premier was approached for comment but has not responded to the developments as yet.

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