ANC collapses Maluti-a-Phofung
by Leona Kleynhans - DA MPL
The slow death of the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality continues with no relief in sight. The municipality which was placed under Sec 139(1)b administration by the MEC in February 2018, has been stripped of its assets by the sheriff of the court in a legal wrangle with Eskom which is owed about R3 billion.
Since the appointment of the administration team, there has been no improvement in the financial position of the municipality, virtually no basic services are being delivered, and the revenue collection rate sits at 11.4%. While the employees remain in place, many of the senior management positions are vacant, some due to suspensions after arrests by the Hawks. It is unclear what the staff are occupied with since the offices were stripped of furniture and equipment including computers.
The council was rendered totally dysfunctional after the ANC fired 16 of its councillors, including the newly elected Mayor, Speaker and Chief Whip, in December because they had, in a democratic process, ‘elected a new Executive Mayor’ to replace the controversial Vusi Tshabalala. Mr Tshabalala has now been rewarded with a cushy position as Chief Whip of the Free State Legislature.
Since December all opposition councillors have boycotted council sittings to display their contempt for the abuse of democratic processes shown by the Free State ANC. This boycott has prevented the council from reaching a quorum for its sittings and thus unable to fulfil its obligations, which includes the passing of the budget which must be concluded by 30 June 2019. In terms of the Constitution, should council fail to adopt the budget by that date, the council must be dissolved by the MEC, and a full re-run of elections in Maluti-a-Phofung must follow to establish a new council.
The Democratic Alliance has been participating in the council boycott, in the belief that democracy and constitutional order must be restored in Maluti-a-Phofung through a re-run, as a starting point to achieve some stability in the municipality.
The Auditor-General is still busy processing the 2016/2017 annual financial statements of the municipality, while the 2017/2018 annual financial statements have not yet been looked at. Historically, Maluti-a-Phofung has only ever received a disclaimer on its annual financial statements in previous years. This is the worst audit opinion the Auditor-General can issue to a municipality, and is part of the reason why the Democratic Alliance has for many years expressed very deep concern about the financial management in Maluti-a-Phofung.
On 3 April Minister Zweli Mkhize replaced the administration team and announced various other administrative measures to strengthen the intervention in MaP. All these announced interventions were ‘rescinded’ within a week. Clearly, the faction fighting in the ANC meant that the Free State provincial government won the tug-of-war over Maluti-a-Phofung.
The DA will continue to fight for good governance, financial sustainability and the delivery of basic services in Maluti-a-Phofung. We believe that the only way for some form of stability to be achieved is through a full election where residents can express themselves on who their representatives will be, in the light of the total failure of the ANC to govern this municipality.