NCOP outcome on Tshwane intervention is driven by political maneuvering

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is dismayed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP’s) announcement in favour of the dissolution of the Tshwane Council by the Gauteng Provincial Government without due process.

It is clear that the outcome was politically driven and that the NCOP is caught in the web of lies the province is weaving.

The DA vehemently disagrees with the decision to put the City of Tshwane under administration.

The matter will be heard in court on 24 March 2020 and we are confident that it will be set aside.

This is a principled fight that concerns the preservation of our democracy and democratic processes.

This outcome sets a dangerous precedent where municipalities that do not have an outright majority will be forced to go to elections every 90 days if parties do not agree in council.

Alternative solutions are required as this may become a prevalent occurrence after the 2021 local government elections.

Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution should be the last resort and in fact more emphasis should have been placed on Section 154 that indicates assistance to a local sphere from provincial and national spheres of government.

The report tabled by the NCOP today is factually flawed and is a clear indication that the NCOP and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Nikosazana Dlamini Zuma failed to hold Gauteng COGTA MEC Lebogang Maile accountable for the misleading information he continues to dish out to the public.

The sudden rush to have the NCOP certify the Gauteng Provincial Government’s intervention in the Tshwane Municipality is nothing short of political exploitation and an incorrect interpretation of the Constitution.

This intervention was only referred to the NCOP last week, leaving the Select Committee on COGTA with very little time for adequate engagement.

During its submissions to the NCOP yesterday, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) noted that new elections could result in no party obtaining a majority, risking a hung Council, with no political leadership. If the MEC was serious about assisting the City of Tshwane and not attempting a power grab through the backdoor, it should have approached SALGA to assist in finding solutions and lobbied all parties to work together.

DA governments to pull out of SALGA if political bias continues

The DA has written to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) expressing its deep concerns with the organisation’s possible political bias towards ANC governed municipalities. SALGA has a mandate to represent the interests of local governments, however, it faces allegations of political bias and possible wasteful expenditure.
The DA’s concerns centre around SALGA pushing a political agenda, aligned to the ANC, that its leadership consists predominantly of the individuals from the ruling party and allegations that opposition councillors are often excluded from SALGA training and initiatives.
The DA has now given SALGA until 30 April 2018 to address our concerns about their politically-skewed priorities. Should the organisation fail to meet our deadline, DA-led municipalities will not be paying membership fees for the 2018/2019 financial year and will subsequently withdraw their membership altogether.
DA-led municipalities account for approximately 20% of SALGA’s income stream and DA members constitute four seats on the SALGA NEC.
Some of the DA’s other concerns, apart from the allegations of the politicisation of SALGA, include:

  • The seeming irregular and extensive international travel of SALGA NEC members and senior management for ‘international relations’ purposes;
  • The personnel costs at the organisation amount to 55% of the organization’s total expenditure, with the administration costs of a further 7.5 %. In contrast, programme costs are at a lowly 20% of the total costs. (according to 16/17 annual report); and
  • SALGA expects municipalities to carry the costs for priorities which are not within the mandate of the organisation.

It is evident that something is seriously wrong at SALGA – and it is for this reason that the DA is prepared to ensure that all DA-led municipalities pull out of SALGA should the organisation fail to fix these concerns as a matter of urgency.
It is unacceptable that SALGA should abuse its position to either include or exclude certain municipalities or political parties.
The DA will ensure that SALGA restores unbiased practices within the organization, to guarantee that every South African citizen has access to efficient local governments, irrespective of political affiliation.

Joint committee on Eskom electricity crisis facing municipalities to go ahead tomorrow

The DA is pleased that our request for an urgent joint committee meeting looking into the Eskom electricity crisis facing municipalities across South Africa has been agreed to and is now scheduled to proceed on Tuesday, 10 October.
This meeting of the Portfolio Committees on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) will include ESKOM, South African Local Government Association (SALGA), and National Treasury. The portfolio committees on Public Enterprises and Finance have also been invited.
On 28 September I wrote to my committee’s chairperson, Mr Mzameni Mdakane, expressing my concern about those municipalities which are currently experiencing “throttling” of electricity supply as a result of their failure to adhere to payment agreements with ESKOM. I requested an urgent meeting on the matter.
It is grossly unfair that residents in the affected municipalities in Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape be disadvantaged, through no fault of their own, due to their municipality’s inability to meet ESKOM’s onerous financial arrangements.
The DA has been engaging ESKOM on this matter and has called on the affected councils to immediate ring fence all income generated by electricity sales for the sole purposes of paying the amounts owed to the power utility as well as for the maintenance of electrical infrastructure.
The failure of municipal managers and, ultimately, mayors in the affected municipality to use monies – paid by residents for electricity consumed – to settle ESKOM debts lies at the heart of the crisis, and these individuals should be held personally responsible. However, residents cannot be cut off as a result and ESKOM has a responsibility to reach a workable solution with these municipalities.
We look forward to engaging with the relevant departments and entities tomorrow, and hope to find a workable solution.