Frustrated Emfuleni ratepayers and businesses want council dissolved

17 August 2022 - 20:06
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A resident struggles to enter his home, where sewage has flooded an entire street in a suburb, near the Vereeniging CBD. Two organisations have called for the Emfuleni local municipality to be dissolved. File Photo
A resident struggles to enter his home, where sewage has flooded an entire street in a suburb, near the Vereeniging CBD. Two organisations have called for the Emfuleni local municipality to be dissolved. File Photo
Image: Alaister Russell/Sunday Times

Two organisations have called on the national and Gauteng governments to  intervene in the affairs of the Emfuleni local municipality, which has  a myriad problems.

The Emfuleni Ratepayers' Association and Vereeniging Business Co-operation — an organisation set up by business owners to uplift the town — said the municipality has achieved notoriety for its lack of service delivery, financial woes and sewage pollution of the Vaal river.

The organisations made the call after indications from the Gauteng province that the partial administration of the municipality — on the finance and service delivery aspects — is likely to end later this year.

The ratepayers' association has requested President Cyril Ramaphosa, minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Zuma, Gauteng premier David Makhura and Gauteng MEC for human settlements, urban planning, co-operative governance and traditional affairs Lebogang Maile to take urgent action in terms of section 154 of the constitution.

The section states that the national government and provincial governments, by legislative and other measures, must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.

Vereeniging Business Co-operation has also written to ask the provincial government to  dissolve the municipal council and appoint an administrator to support the municipality until it is able to undertake its responsibilities as a municipality.

“Over the years of engagement with (the municipality) we have been presented with numerous plans, strategies and interventions with no improvement in service delivery.  We therefore hold provincial and national government responsible for the restoration of viability and delivery of services,” said the co-operation’s chairperson, Kevin Jackson, in a letter to the national and provincial governments.

The organisations said the province's partial administration from July 2017 has failed to produce meaningful results in either finances or service delivery.

They said this was witnessed in the broken billing and collection system, with income barely covering salaries, the electricity outages which are due to lack of funding for parts, s or replacement of stolen cables, or maintenance.

They said there were also collapsed water and waste water systems, where national government has assumed control of the operation, maintenance and repairs of the systems.

They said a further example of the poor management was the R60m in grants which were unspent on infrastructure improvement in the previous financial year and went back to the Treasury.

The organisations said they were determined that the national government take responsibility in terms of the constitution, and planned to achieve this through the high court, if necessary.

“We do not have the luxury of time and further delays or friendly engagement. Our municipality is broken and in severe distress.

“The district and infrastructure are crumbling. Emfuleni, as a region and municipality will never be able to recover without the intervention of national government now,” said ratepayers' association chair Kobus van Rensburg. 

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