‘The people must come first’ – why Tshwane is under administration

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Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: Palesa Dlamini
Gauteng Premier David Makhura. Picture: Palesa Dlamini

The rapid deterioration of the City of Tshwane while political parties are fighting was the main reason the capital city was placed under administration, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said on Thursday.

Makhura, flanked by Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile, made the announcement on Thursday morning at the provincial legislature.

The announcement followed a Gauteng provincial government executive committee meeting held to discuss the crisis in Tshwane.

Makhura said the decision was guided by the Constitution and the law in terms of what needs to be done under the current circumstances faced by the Tshwane Local Municipality.

Residents are suffering while political parties are fighting in council and in the courts.
Gauteng premier David Makhura

“The people of Tshwane must come first. The Gauteng provincial government is taking this drastic step in the best interest of the people of Tshwane. All necessary steps in terms of the Constitution will be followed to give effect to the intervention,” he said.

Makhura said Tshwane was facing systemic failures and the collapse of service delivery.

“The city of Tshwane has been deteriorating rapidly and is evidently on the decline. Residents are suffering while political parties are fighting in council and in the courts. The city is substantially failing to comply with the directives issued and the situation is getting worse every day,” he said at the briefing.

This means that the Tshwane municipal council has been dissolved and an administrator will be appointed to run the municipality until a new council is elected within 90 days.

Due to the political squabbles, key positions in the city are vacant. The city has no mayor or municipal manager due to several failed council sittings.

The resignation of former DA mayor Stevens Mokgalapa took effect last Wednesday. It was expected that a new mayor would be elected the next day.

However, the EFF and ANC staged a walkout.

Another sitting was called on Friday to extend Augustine Makgata’s service as the acting municipal manager, but there were not enough councillors to form a quorum and the vote did not go ahead.

Besides the municipality being incapable of carrying out its constitutional obligations, Makhura listed the following as contributing to its failure:

  • Flagrant disregard for the Municipal Finance Management Act, especially regarding procurement processes which has eroded good governance in the city, as can be evidenced by the tenders irregularly awarded to Glad Africa and Aurecon;
  • Unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure flagged by the Auditor General. The city has been slow in effectively applying consequence management to deal with matters raised by the Auditor General;
  • Failure to spend conditional grants, leading to loss of money. In terms of its financial position, the city is facing serious challenges given its current inability to pay all its creditors and the serious problems it’s experiencing in revenue collection;
  • Constant irregular appointments of senior managers. For example the cooperative governance and traditional affairs department received the appointment report of the municipal manager and various managers directly accountable to the municipal manager between January and September 2017;
  • The department found some areas to be non-compliant with regulation 17(4) of the local government regulations on appointment and conditions of employment of senior employees; and
  • Since 2016, the city has failed to elect ward committees that allow citizens to get involved in how their communities are governed, which is against the Municipal Structures Act. The deliver of clean drinking water has been severely compromised and refuse collection was at its worst.

Makhura stated that all these issues were raised with the municipality in several correspondences and directives by Maile but the municipality failed to act on the directives.

The premier also noted “veiled threats of court action by leaders of a particular political party’’ but he said he would not be blackmailed into inaction.

He sent out a stern warning to parties to not play political games with the lives of the residents.

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Wednesday indicated that the party – which until Thursday was running the city – would pursue legal avenues if the metro was placed under administration.

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