The stakeholders of Mkhanyakude District Municipality did not turn up as expected to the meeting that was scheduled to take place today between the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Water and sanitation and Human Settlements, and the KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN’s) Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The committee was going to be briefed by the KZN’s Department of Cooperative Governance on procedural, constitutional and substantive matters related to invocation of interventions in terms of section 139 (1) (b) of the constitution in Nquthu Local Municipality and Mkhanyakude District Municipality

 The Chairperson of the committee, Mr China Dodovu, said: “We are here on a special dispensation. We should be on recess, but given the importance of the matter we should convene and deal with it as swiftly as we can.”

A previous committee meeting which was meant to deal with this matter was postponed due to the absence of officials from these municipalities. A subsequent meeting was rescheduled for today.

In today’s meeting the committee learnt that Nquthu Local Municipality has since lodged a litigation against the provincial government’s decision to place it under administration. Now the matter is before the court and a date for its hearing is set for July.

“As the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) it is our role to ensure that the invocation of section 139 is arrived at having considered the views of all affected stakeholders. It can’t be taken without such a process,”  said Mr Dododvu.

He said as the committee they are not happy that the affected stakeholders of Mkhanyakude District Municipality were not present in today’s meeting. “This is such an inconvenience, we postponed our constituency matter to be part of this meeting, but the affected parties have decided not to honour it, and sadly the meeting can’t continue without them,” emphasised Mr Dododvu.

The committee registered its disappointment about this matter. The committee said it is disappointing to realise that this now happens for the second time and that the committee can’t continue with the meeting without the affected stakeholders.

Members of the committee, one after another, argued that it is a common cause that the committee couldn’t continue without the stakeholders from the district municipality. “But as a committee we need to know the reason why they are not here when they were supposed to be part of this meeting,” said Ms Carin Visser, who is a Member of the committee. 

It would the fourth time we postpone this meeting, argued Mr Xolani Ngwezi. “What we are seeing here today is the reflection of the state of affairs in this municipality,” he further alleged. “This is exactly what happens in their council meetings. The committee must do a proper ground work to determine why the municipality officials continuously disregarded the committee’s invitation to appear before it regarding the Provincial Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’ decision to place it under administration for not meeting its executive obligations.”

“We can’t be prevented from exercising our oversight mandate. It is our mandate to determine the constitutionality of the implementation of section 139 of the Constitution which gives powers to the NCOP to place malfunctioning municipalities under administration,” said Mr Dodovu.

He said that is a decision that can’t be unilaterally taken by the provincial government. Such a determination can only be reached “when we as the NCOP have had a full consultation with the affected municipalities”, he further added.

The Member of the Executive Committee of CoGTA in KZN, Mr Sipho Hlomuka, was of the view that the committee can still intervene in the Nquthu matter because it has not yet come before the committee. And its 180 days window period for intervention as stipulated in the Constitution in section 139 related matters has not lapsed. 

As such, he pointed out, “we are of the view that it’s premature for Nguthu Local Municipality to take this matter when the committee has not made any determination on whether it approves or disapproves our invocation of section 139 on this municipality”.  

It would be improper for the committee to be “hindered from doing its work due to court action. The Nguthu court case matter may drag indefinitely and this will continue to affect the effective running of this municipality,” he contested.  
Mr Dodovu assured Mr Hlomuka that the committee takes all the factors into consideration and it will also engage its legal personnel and solicit an opinion on this matter and will report back on it.

He assured the committee that the problem will be investigated on why the officials of Mkhanyakude District Municipality were not present in this meeting as expected.

In his closing remarks, Mr Dodovu reiterated that “it’s unfortunate that we could not deal with this matter today as expected and we had to postpone this meeting under such circumstances. But we won’t leave any stone unturned to get to the bottom of what happened today”.

By Abel Mputing
29 June 2021