Makana dissolution: Govt considers appealing landmark judgment

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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)

Citizen organisations have called on the government to accept and act on this week's judgment ordering that Makana's Council be dissolved and the municipality be put under administration.

This comes as the Eastern Cape government on Thursday confirmed it would consider appealing Judge Igna Stretch's landmark ruling in the high court in Makhanda on Tuesday, Grocott's Mail reported.

In the first judgment of its kind in South Africa, the Eastern Cape's Provincial Executive has been ordered to dissolve Makana Municipality and appoint an administrator until a new council is elected. The mayor and municipal manager, in their personal capacities, face a punitive cost order, along with various national and provincial government entities.

In a statement to Grocott's Mail's on Thursday, Premier Oscar Mabuyane said the application of the judgment would be suspended until the provincial government had decided how to respond to it.

"The judgment has far reaching implications and the Eastern Cape Provincial government is considering appealing the judgment," Mabuyane said. "Therefore, the application of the judgment, or its effect, will be suspended until such time as a final decision is taken in this regard."

Hours after Tuesday’s judgment was released, ANC regional chairperson Scara Njadayi told Grocott's Mail that, in Wednesday's provincial executive meeting, they would encourage the province and the municipality to appeal the judgment.

Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa today told Grocott's Mail that the council's mayoral committee, along with senior managers, would meet on Friday to discuss their response. A recommendation to council would follow.

"Council has not yet met and only council can make a decision about our response," Mpahlwa told Grocott's Mail. He said a recommendation to councillors would come out of the meeting. Council's first scheduled meeting is on January 30, but the mayor said it was likely that a special council meeting would be convened earlier.

Meanwhile, the winning applicants - the Unemployed People's Movement (UPM) and the Grahamstown Residents Association (GRA) - have called on the government to accept the ruling.

The UPM's Ayanda Kota said in response to Thursday's news: "It [would be] an indictment on the part of the government to oppose the will of the people. It would indeed be a dark moment for our city and our country."

Minutes after the judgment was released, an elated Kota had told Grocott's Mail: "People were united across the spectrum against the political elite of the city… it's democracy… we hope they will accept that it’s part of the democratic process… they must take their things and go home."

The GRA likewise called on the government to accept the ruling. In a statement issued last night, GRA chairperson Philip Machanick said: "I see reports that ANC structures are calling for the judgment to be appealed because of the precedent it sets. I propose a different precedent for the government: start governing. That is all we ask.

"Civil society has refused to accept this as normal; the extremely diverse constituencies who have stood up for positive change attest to that. We are not the opposition: we are the people government is meant to serve. The GRA calls on government to accept this judgment as a wake-up call and stop resisting the inevitable – a comprehensive intervention to turn things around."

The Judge's two-page order said Makana had failed to provide services to the community in a sustainable manner, promote a safe and healthy environment, structure and manage its administration, budgeting and planning processes, prioritise the community’s needs and promote its social and economic development.

To read more on the details of the judgment, READ: UPM celebrates Makana judgment

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