By ROD AMNER
The Eastern Cape Treasury is set to make an “urgent intervention” in Makana Municipality, one of eight municipalities in the province red-flagged as on the brink of collapse.
But, local opposition politicians and activists are unimpressed.
In October 2021, National Treasury identified 43 municipalities in the country – eight in the Eastern Cape, including Makana – that would require urgent intervention in terms of S139 of the Constitution to avoid further litigation and possible national intervention.
In Makana’s case, the Provincial Executive Committee has invoked S139 (5) (a) of the Constitution, which imposes a Financial Recovery Plan (FRP) which will be implemented with municipal capacity.
The interventions aim to halt financial mismanagement and political instability and stem an avalanche of service delivery problems, including water, sewage, waste disposal, and pot-holed roads.
But, Democratic Alliance Makana Ward 8 councillor Cary Clark pointed out that the Makana Municipality already had an FRP, “which we must now implement in terms of a Court Order”.
Mandatory interventions require the preparation of an FRP by the National Treasury, which is then imposed on the municipality by the Provincial Executive. The municipality remains responsible for implementing the FRP, subject to regular monitoring and oversight by the Provincial Executive Committee.
This has already been stipulated by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) when it declared Makana’s Financial Recovery Plan an order on Thursday, 10 March.
The court order includes reporting deadlines for the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Xolile Nqatha.
Clark said it was more likely that the FRP would be implemented as a result of the court order than through the intervention of the EC government. “Makana never bothered to implement our existing FRC before the court order was implemented. No report was ever brought before the National or Provincial Treasury or Cogta. It needs to go to Cogta to be effective.”
Grahamstown Business Forum (GBF) chair Richard Gaybba agreed. He said the “much-talked-about and never-implemented Financial Recovery Plan (FRP) was a result of a previous section 139 (5) intervention. It should be noted that despite being drafted and revised numerous times, it still hasn’t been implemented. It would seem that the only real option left to the Province is to institute a Section 139 (1) (c) intervention, which requires relevant provincial executives to dissolve the municipality,” he said.
Former MCF PR councillor Lungile Mxube said that even when Makana had been placed under full administration – like the one in 2014 when Pam Yako was deployed as an administrator – there had been “no significant change or improvement”.
“Instead, the situation worsened,” he said.
“If ANC was genuinely committed to restoring good governance, the rule of law, and the fast-tracking of effective service delivery in Makana, they would rather remove their internal rotten, corrupt, and incompetent senior officials who are a product of their cadre deployment,” Mxube said.
He said the Municipal Manager had had three consecutive disclaimers as an accounting officer “yet was expected to turn things around”.
“He has lost the battle against corruption and maladministration – his administration is rotten to the core.”
“Even if we were to give this intervention a chance, citizens must stand up and demand transparency and accountability – we must not be treated as outsiders or spectators. If the intervention is about the citizens of our city, it must not be imposed. Rather, it must be subjected to public participation. We want an intervention that embraces the voices of citizens and not the one imposed to cover up the rot and ANC political decay and dismal governance failures,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Treasury quickly refuted a 2 June report by the Daily Dispatch, implying that the EC government was placing eight municipalities under administration. EC provincial treasury spokesperson Pumelele Godongwana said the eight municipalities were under ‘mandatory intervention’, not ‘administration’.
After consulting the Eastern Cape Provincial Treasury and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), National Treasury issued a letter to the Premier that outlined agreed modes of intervention in municipalities in the province, Godongwana said.
The letter sent to the province stated that “in all 43 municipalities, S139(5) of the Constitution has been recommended as the appropriate mode of intervention required to resolve the prevailing crisis”.