During a virtual meeting of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) where, among other things, the condition of municipalities in the Northern Cape were discussed, the destructive impact of ANC infighting on service delivery once again became clearly evident.
The dissolution of the Phokwane Local Municipality (Hartswater, Jan Kempdorp, Pampierstat) stood out as a case in point as the interests of political factions in the ANC on local and provincial level obviously carried more weight than the interests of the community that they are supposed to serve.
It was clear from the submissions by the Municipality’s administrator as well as the members of the provincial government that the relevant legislation and procedures for the dissolution of a municipal council were subordinated to political interests with no consideration for the legal implications thereof. The Pokwane community has been burdened with the far-reaching consequences of poor service delivery, brought about by political infighting in the ANC-controlled Municipality, for a long time.
By 1 July 2019, the Phokwane Municipality still had not been able to adopt a budget for the 2019/2020 financial year. In terms of the Municipal Financial Management Act, if this is the case the mayor must report it to the provincial government at once, which must then intervene to ensure that the municipality is placed under effective financial administration and that the council is dissolved.
In response to a question by the FF Plus, the Northern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Bentley Vass, indicated that the provincial government did indeed adopt a budget for the Municipality in July 2019, but that the council had not been dissolved as prescribed by law.
The MEC, furthermore, indicated that it was only a “conditional approval” on condition that the Municipality had to take some remedial financial steps by September 2019. The law, however, does not make any provision for any such “conditional approval” of a municipal budget.
Vass went on to explain that by February 2020, the Municipality had not met any of the conditions and that is why the provincial government dissolved the council in March. Thus, the council had been functioning unlawfully for a period of eight months.
Therefore, all the expenses incurred based on any of the council decisions made during this time are irregular expenditure. Above and beyond the fact that all the councillors who were involved in this are required to repay their council grants that they received during the period, they must also be held personally liable for any irregular expenditure incurred after unlawful council decisions.
The time has come for councillors to realise that they have a responsibility towards their communities and they must be held personally liable for their conduct.
To make matters worse for the community, the administrator indicated that the Municipality had, as part of its turn-around strategy, increased rates and taxes with up to 80%. Law-abiding taxpayers are, thus, once again forced to bear the brunt for the corruption and mismanagement of deployed ANC cadres.
It is an absolute shame and is leading to a growing resistance among taxpayers.
The FF Plus will send a request to the Auditor-General (AG) to thoroughly investigate the Pokwane Municipality so that appropriate action can be taken against the individuals responsible for the state of affairs at the Municipality.
The Phokwane case is just another example of where the ANC government views national laws merely as guidelines and not as mandatory legislation that applies to all citizens.
The FF Plus will continue to expose corrupt ANC practices and ensure that communities across the country are aware of the reasons why the ANC must be removed with the 2021 local government elections.
Michal Groenewald / FF Plus