The Gauteng provincial government will within the next few days name the administrator who will lead the embattled Tshwane metro council until residents go to the polls to elect a new council within 90 days.
This follows an announcement by Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Thursday that the Tshwane council has been dissolved due to “ongoing mismanagement” of the city.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), which has been leading the city government in coalition with smaller parties since 2016, has however vowed to challenge the decision in court.
According to the leader of the party’s governance unit James Selfe, the DA has already had two consultations with its legal team. Selfe said the law does not provide for the provincial government to summarily place the city under administration.
“There is a process to follow. We are now checking if the province has complied with the process and then we will decide whether we go to court on an urgent or semi-urgent basis.”
According to Selfe, the city administration can carry on with 99% of its functions despite the fact that there is currently no mayor, mayoral committee or city manager.
He says most functions have been delegated to other officials and according to the proscribed process it would be at least 14 days before the council can in fact be dissolved.
Castro Ngobese, spokesperson of the Gauteng MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), was however adamant that the Gauteng government has acted correctly and the council has in fact been dissolved.
He said the next steps are for Makhura to write to the speaker of the provincial legislature, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the minister of Cogta Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and inform them of the move.
He said the administrator who will lead the city in the next 90 days until residents go to the polls to elect a new city government will be announced within the next few days with clear instructions about the corrective steps the provincial government expects this person to take.
The provincial Cogta will develop a comprehensive recovery plan for the city, he said.
A council in turmoil
The Tshwane council has been in turmoil for some time and has not had a functional meeting since late November. ANC and EFF councillors repeatedly disrupted council or failed to attend, leaving it without a quorum.
As a result, the city failed to adopt its adjustment budget in February and was unable to respond to directives from the provincial government issued in December aimed at addressing alleged non-compliance with provisions of the Constitution and municipal legislation.
Ngobese said the speaker Katlego Mathebe responded instead, which apparently did not satisfy the province and prompted further action.
Makhura said the intervention was necessitated by procurement irregularities like the GladAfrica contract, failure to speedily address issues raised by the Auditor-General, problems with revenue collection and payment of creditors as well as failure to spend the city’s conditional grant, irregular appointments, the fact that the city has not held elections for ward committees, and problems with water provision in Hammanskraal.
Former mayor Stevens Mokgalapa resigned against the backdrop of a sex scandal and no permanent city manager has been appointed since the acrimonious departure of Moeketsi Mosola in August last year. The term of the previous acting city manager lapsed at the end of February and because there was no council meeting, no subsequent acting city manager has been appointed.
Selfe said on Wednesday night although the DA-led administration can be criticised for many things, since taking over from the ANC in 2016 the city’s finances have improved. He denied that creditors are not being paid.
Freedom Front councillor Sakkie du Plooy, who also served on Mokgalapa’s mayoral committee, said the ANC and EFF purposefully manufactured the crisis to justify the “opportunistic” intervention.
He said Tshwane suffered much worse governance failures when the ANC was in charge and that the provincial government was singling out Tshwane while failing to act against other municipalities in the same province with bigger problems.
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