NCOP committee supports dissolution of Ditsobotla local municipality

03 October 2022 - 22:31
By Andisiwe Makinana
People from the settlement of Boikhutso  collect water from a tanker in Lichtenburg. Clover has decided to close down SA's largest cheese factory in the town due to poor service delivery.
Image: Alaister Russell People from the settlement of Boikhutso collect water from a tanker in Lichtenburg. Clover has decided to close down SA's largest cheese factory in the town due to poor service delivery.

The shambolic Ditsobotla local council which has had two mayors, two speakers and two municipal managers from warring ANC factions will be dissolved. 

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) select committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), water and sanitation and human settlements has supported the decision of the North West government to dissolve the council and will recommend the same to a sitting of the NCOP on Wednesday. 

But the committee was not impressed that Cogta MEC Lenah Miga appointed an administrator before the NCOP processes are concluded.

Miga appointed Radinaledi Mosiane on Friday as the administrator to run the council's affairs.

Ditsobotla includes the towns of Lichtenburg and Coligny. In June 2021, dairy company Clover announced it was closing one of the country’s largest cheese factories in Lichtenburg due to “ongoing poor service delivery” by the local municipality.

On September 14, the North West government dissolved the council, citing “a heightened state of deterioration of stability in both administration and council operations” over the past months.  In July the national government withheld disbursement of the equitable share to the municipality. 

Previous interventions in Ditsobotla also failed, including the invocation of Section 154 of the constitution and Section 139 [5] of the municipal financial management act which saw provincial government through provincial Cogta and provincial treasury supporting the municipality to manage its affairs, perform its functions and manage its finances have not worked.

“All these interventions and many others failed to restore stability in the municipality resulting in the total collapse of systems. This resulted in the municipality failing to discharge its constitutional obligation and legislative mandate,” the provincial government said on September 16.

For the equitable share to be released, Ditsobotla had to, among other things:

  • submit a plan for the recruitment and filling of vacant senior positions to the provincial treasury and Cogta; 
  • submit a report on the unspent integrated national electrification programme grant earmarked for upgrading the power station and measures put in place to address the impasse;
  • submit a progress plan on addressing waste management and sewage spillages;
  • submit a council resolution on a repayment plan of Eskom debt; and
  • submit an approved implementation plan on a recent public protector’s report.

The committee visited the municipality last Thursday and  reported it found serious challenges relating to “power conflicts”.

“A new mayor has been installed by majority councillors in a quorating council meeting, but the ousted mayor appointed a former municipal manager as the acting municipal manager while the reconstituted council also appointed their own acting municipal manager.

“The former municipal manager forcefully took office and installed bouncers on the municipal premises with guns and live ammunition to control access and deny all opposed to him, including the mayor and speaker as well as other councillors access to the building.”

There was also conflict about signatories for the municipal bank account. The municipality has received disclaimer audit opinions from the auditor-general for the past five years and has operated on an unfunded budget for the past three.

The committee noted service delivery issues were not properly discussed, planned and executed by the municipality.

Committee chair China Dodovu said the administrator would have to conduct a skills audit and those not properly appointed would be dealt with.

The DA objected to the report, saying the process was being used to fight ANC factional battles and the committee had not received sufficient information to make an informed decision.


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