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Latest Municipal Demarcation Changes

Date: 13-07-2015

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Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan did not get a full wish list of council mergers when the Municipal Demarcation Board announced its decision about his submissions on contentious section 22 border changes.


Mr Gordhan had made the requests in line with section 22 of the Municipal Demarcation Act, much to the chagrin of opposition parties, particularly in hotly contested councils.


SA TO HAVE 11 FEWER MUNICIPALITIES


SA will have 11 fewer municipalities, which now stand at 278, due to Mr Gordhan's application. Nkandla local municipality would not be merged with neighbouring councils to create a metro, the board said on Friday. The Democratic Alliance-held Baviaans local municipality will not merge with the Camdeboo and Ikwezi councils, both of which are governed by the African National Congress (ANC).


Board chairwoman Jane Thupana on Friday cited insufficient time to deal with intricate cases - as well as those that could not be linked to the government's Back to Basics programme - for turning down 12 cases.


The timing of Mr Gordhan's proposals was also awkward - local government elections will he held next year.


He had made the submissions to assist councils that are in a financially perilous state. "The board further opted to broaden public participation and obtain further views and representations … while investigations were conducted to gather more information," Ms Thupana said.


Ward delimitation objections would be considered, and wards finalised and handed over to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) next month. The date had been agreed on by the commission and board, an IEC spokesperson said.


In the Eastern Cape, Nkonkobe local municipality's merger with the Nxuba council will go ahead, while the proposed amalgamation of the Gariep and Maletswai local municipalities also got the green light from the board. Although Mr Gordhan must make section 22 merger proposals with a view to improving councils' financial standing, the Nxuba-Nkonkobe amalgamation was approved despite both receiving qualified audits with findings. In Mpumalanga, the Mbombela and Umjindi local municipalities will merge.


Mr Gordhan said he welcomed the board's decisions. His proposals were necessary as the department's assessment of councils in SA found that a third of municipalities were dysfunctional while a second third were at risk. "Several municipalities are not financially viable due to their geographic location and on the concomitant tax or revenue base. Often, the financial viability in municipalities correlated with the inability of such municipalities to provide services to their communities and the right quality of standard in a consistent basis," Mr Gordhan said.


The DA's spokesman on co-operative governance, Kevin Mileham, said the board had caved in to political pressure. "The process for outer boundary determinations had been completed and the (board) was busy with ward delimitations when Mr Gordhan requested they reconsider the boundaries of a number of municipalities in terms of section 21 (of the Municipal Electoral Act). Section 21 determinations should be the exception rather than the norm," Mr Mileham said.


Meanwhile, the controversial Tlokwe local municipality, in the North West, will merge with the Ventersdorp council.


In the Free State, Naledi local municipality will be amalgamated vertically into the Mangaung metropolitan municipality.


Mier and //Khara Hais local municipalities are also merging.


In Limpopo, Mutale local municipality will be dissolved into the Thulamela and Musina councils, while sections of Thulamela merged with parts of Makhado local municipality. Also in Limpopo, Fetakgomo and Greater Tubatse local municipalities will be amalgamated, as will Modimolle and Mookgopong local municipalities.


This article was written by Khulekani Magubane and appeared on the Business Day Live Website on 05-05-2015. Click here to go to the original article.


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