‘Emfuleni at war with itself’

 

Cllr Edward Von Bodenstein, DA Caucus Management in the Emfuelni Local Council, writes:

Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced on 11th June 2018, that he had placed the cash strapped Emfuleni municipality under administration. 

 

Makhura had said in a briefing that the province would have financial control over the struggling municipality which includes Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark.

 

The ANC Provincial Executive Council decided to institute a comprehensive intervention plan in line with sec 139 in order to ensure minimum standards of service delivery to communities and ensure financial viability through a financial recovery plan.

 

In a letter to the executive mayor of Emfuleni dated 15th June 2018 the premier stated that the intervention of the provincial government in Emfuleni in terms of sections 139(1)(b)(i) and 139(5) of the constitution will allow for the implementation of financial recovery and service delivery plans in the municipality.

 

The nature of the intervention would consist of five (5) Work Streams namely:

*Basic services and Urban Management.

*Governance and Institutional Management. 

*Communication and Stakeholder Engagements. 

*Implementing Mega Capital and Infrastructure Projects in Emfuleni. 

 

These work streams would focus on the executive obligations that the municipality cannot or does not fulfil in terms of sec 139(1)(b)(i).

 

Pursuant to the premier’s announcement, the executive mayor Jacob Khawe resigned in retaliation to ELM being placed under administration. He later withdrew his resignation following a meeting with ANC officials.

 

The premier had been accused by the ANC Youth League members of placing the municipality under administration to undercut Khawe’s campaign to compete with a Makhura ally for the position of secretary of the party in the province. Khawe has subsequently been elected as the provincial secretary of the ANC.

 

On 26th July, the executive mayor convened a workshop with all councillors with a view to explaining the implications of sec 139 within ELM. ln this meeting, the mayor disassociated himself from the contents of the letter from the premier dated 15th June 2018, as well as the premier’s announcement over the media on 11th June 2018 of implementation of sec 139 in ELM.

 

Where does this leave the community of Emfuleni? We have in the meantime been informed that there is another letter from the premier revoking the one dated 15th June 2018, which letter will have to go to the next council sitting for adoption.

 

As a result of these divisions within the ruling party, the services to the communities become more and more disrupted. Refuse is not collected according to schedule, sewers are overflowing and electricity and water are unstable.

 

It is common cause that ELM owes both Eskom and Rand Water. On 22 July 2018, Eskom announced that it would start with bulk electricity disruptions in ELM with effect from 6th August due to the monthly increase of the municipality’s debt.

 

In response, ELM approached the high court on 31st July 2018 with an application for stay of legal proceedings in terms of sec 152(1) of the Municipal Finance Management Act(Act 56 of 2003). An interim order was granted pending final arguments on 24th August 2018.

 

It is interesting to understand the relief being sort by ELM in terms of sec 152(1) of the MFMA, should the court grant such relief then it can only be for ninety (90) days.

 

In light of this, the DA views the actions of the executive mayor et al as delaying tactics which will not solve the problem of paying Eskom. We believe that they are addressing the symptoms and not the actual problem in that they know very well that ELM is not collecting sufficient for electricity consumption particularly in some township areas. They therefore lack the political will to address this issue.

 

The net effect of these non-paying areas results in cross-subsidisation by the paying areas.

 

Lastly, we submit as the DA that the ANC has overstayed its welcome, as well as its sell by date. Therefore the community of Emfuleni must exercise their democratic right by voting the ANC out of government both in 2019 and 2021.

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