The Democratic Alliance (DA) has filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court seeking an urgent review of the Municipal Demarcation Board’s (MDB) decision to amalgamate and redefine some municipalities and claims that the decisions were taken without proper consultation with the affected communities.
Jacques Smalle, DA Provincial Leader says in a media release that, after a series of community unrest protests in Vuwani, Makhado and Malamulele, the DA condemns unilateral decisions to re-determine the boundaries of Limpopo municipalities.
“We contend that these are riddled with political bias and are suspiciously illogical and irrational,” Smalle said and added that the DA has already written to the MDB and to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to interrogate which of the criteria in Sections 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act was considered when deciding to amalgamate Fetagomo and Greater Tubatse Municipalities and Modimolle and Mookgophong Municipalities into one municipal area and to discard Mutale Municipality and distribute its people into areas of Musina and Thulamela Municipalities, while a new municipality comprising of portions of Makhado and Thulamela Municipalities will be established and Aganang Municipality be disestablished with its portions incorporated into areas of Polokwane, Molemole and Blouberg Municipalities.
According to Smalle, the DA has noted the overwhelming number of Limpopo residents, particularly within the community of Vuwani, who complain about the lack of consultation with all parties as required by the Municipal Demarcation Act.
“Although the process of merging municipalities is driven by financial viability and sustainability, the decision by the MDB to amalgamate Fetakgomo with Greater Tubatse especially, is highly irrational, considering that both municipalities received disclaimers or adverse audit findings as stipulated in the Auditor General’s (AG) Report for 2013/14. The amalgamation of Modimole and Mookgopong municipalities has been approved despite both having received qualified audits with findings,” said Smalle.
“If these municipalities could not be managed separately and the AG’s recommendations that the root causes for poor performance are still not addressed, how can the MDB possibly justify these mergers,” asked Smalle and urged the MDB as well as the IEC to provide the record of decisions, including the socio-economic considerations and impacts, to show if there was any rationality in these decisions.
Bulelwa Mbali-Khoele, acting Head of Stakeholder Management and Communications at the MDB, said that the MDB, at its meeting held on 17 August 2015, redetermined some of the section 22 proposals received from the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The decisions of the Board were published in the relevant Provincial Gazettes. The DA had since lodged a High Court Application (on an urgent basis) to interdict the Board and other affected respondents from implementing the decisions of the Board. The Minister, affected MECs and municipalities, South African Local Government Association and the IEC were cited as respondents.
“The DA seeks an order from the court to interdict the MDB from implementing the redetermination decisions in the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West Provinces and the MDB filed its Notice of Intention to Oppose the Application on 8 September 2015. The matter is therefore sub judice and the MDB will respect the court process to be finalised. As such, the MDB is not in a position to directly respond/ comment on DA’s media release,” Mbali-Khoele said.
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