The Eastern Cape government should hold failed councils to account, not side with them against residents, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said in a statement 3 March 2020. The organisation was commenting on the Eastern Cape government’s application for leave to appeal today and tomorrow in the Bhisho High Court, in Bhisho.
“OUTA is in full support of the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) which will this week fight against an attempt by the Eastern Cape government to overturn the high court judgment that ordered the Makana Local Municipality be placed under administration,” the organisation said.
Tim Tyrrell, OUTA’s Manager for KwaZulu-Natal, said he was disappointed that the Eastern Cape government was seeking to appeal the judgment.
“The Makana council has flouted its responsibility to serve the people. Out of desperation, the people went to court to force the Eastern Cape Government to take action against the dysfunctional municipality. The very province that is supposed to have oversight over the council’s performance and act against those not doing their jobs, is now [acting]against the people they failed to serve, with the taxpayers’ money. This is ridiculous.”
The application is for leave to appeal against a 14 January 2020 judgment by the high court in Makhanda that ordered the provincial government to dissolve the Makana council and place the municipality under administration, on the basis of years of failed service delivery.
“While everyone has the right to appeal an adverse finding against them, we are disappointed that the provincial government has failed to recognise the headwinds of civil activism and has instead chosen to spend taxpayers’ money to fight an impoverished community who are simply asking that they be treated with respect and dignity by the municipality which is supposed to serve them,” said Tyrrell.
Tyrrell said Makana residents deserved the support of all South Africans. Despite minimal resources, they had shown it was possible to hold elected officials to account in a meaningful way outside the election cycle.
“Regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, the January judgment is incredibly important, and will no doubt set in motion many more such court challenges across the country. It’s time for the provincial governments to exercise their mandates with proper oversight and rigorous action against those who fail to serve the people,” Tyrrell said.