Councillors attempt to wrest municipality from management of provincial authorities.
First revealed in GroundUp.
The battle for political management of the Kannaland Municipality within the Little Karoo has shifted to the Western Cape excessive court docket, the place the DA-led provincial authorities and a municipal coalition of ANC and Icosa councillors are going head-to-head over who ought to run the municipality.
The Western Cape excessive court docket has been requested to intervene to cease the bankrupt Kannaland Municipality signing a R735-million deal and making six new political employees appointments. The municipality has responded with a counter-application.
The municipality has been below administration by the provincial authorities since December 2018 and the Western Cape authorities has requested the court docket to forestall an alliance of ANC and Unbiased Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa) councillors from taking motion which isn’t in keeping with the monetary plan imposed then.
Based on the founding affidavit filed by Western Cape MEC for Native Authorities, Anton Bredell, failure on the a part of the Kannaland Municipality to handle its funds resulted in it being R37.6-million in debt in 2016. The municipality owed tax and was not making staff’ pension fund and medical help funds.
This led to the province invoking its constitutional mandate to intervene, and a monetary restoration plan was developed and imposed in March 2017, with the municipal council accountable for overseeing the plan.
By December 2018 it was obvious the municipality was not implementing the plan, and the provincial govt invoked provisions within the Municipal Finance Administration Act to take over implementation, appointing an administrator.
The administrator launched price financial savings together with freezing of wage will increase for councillors and officers and of bonuses for senior administration.
However in November final 12 months, with govt mayor Magdalena Barry sick on account of Covid-19 and municipal supervisor Reynold Stevens suspended, the remaining six-member council took numerous selections which the province believes are illegal.
In what seems to be a flurry of conferences over November and December, council resolved to conclude a R735-million deal settlement with vitality provide firm Inovasure, elevate the necessary provincial intervention and implementation of the monetary restoration plan, and boot the province’s administrator out of his workplace.
The council additionally determined to vary the organisational construction imposed by a decision of 31 Could final 12 months, to create 5 new posts within the speaker’s workplace and one other within the mayor’s workplace, to reinstate the pinnacle of technical providers who had beforehand been dismissed, and to distribute R204,902 in bonuses to 2 staff who had already been awarded R581,000 and R306,000 respectively.
Moreover, Bredell states, a R136,000 “status bonus” was given to the previous municipal supervisor, Morne Hoogbaard, who had left the municipality in 2016 and had subsequently been charged by the NPA.
Bredell argues all these selections are illegal as they don’t seem to be in accordance with the monetary administration plan which the province has imposed as a part of their constitutionally mandated obligation and in keeping with the Municipal Finance Administration Act (MFMA).
Additional, he says in his affidavit, the Inovasure deal doesn’t adjust to Municipal Provide Chain Administration laws, the MFMA, or the Nationwide Treasury’s laws, and there’s no proof that the required session with the nationwide vitality regulator has taken place. Bredell included letters to the municipality from each Nationwide and Provincial Treasuries.
The Kannaland municipality accepts that the province needed to intervene, however say its conduct was “disproportionate” and “didn’t respect the purposeful and institutional integrity of native authorities”.
The municipality argues that the province’s administrator, who has been in workplace for 3 years, has no authorized standing as council was not dissolved.
Kannaland additionally says the MFMA states that Nationwide Treasury has to develop the restoration plan, not the province.
The councillors additionally argue that the intervention of the province was politically motivated, as different municipalities plagued with power underpayment for providers haven’t been targets for a similar “maximally intrusive intervention”, particularly not any of the Western Cape’s DA-led municipalities. (Kannaland has a mixture of Icosa, DA, and ANC seats in council).
The decision for pressing interim motion towards Kannaland to forestall the Inovasure deal and additional employees appointments is baseless, argues appearing municipal supervisor Roland Butler, as Inovasure is much from a performed deal and anyway wouldn’t place any monetary danger on the municipality as all the chance is on Inovasure. As for altering the staffing plan, he says, this doesn’t imply the brand new appointments can be made but. Moreover, states Butler, the (former) provincial administrator has said that implementation of the monetary administration restoration plan is 97% full.
The province’s intervention in Kannaland must be declared illegal, says Butler, and the nationwide authorities ought to present oversight.
The case can be thought of by the excessive court docket on 1 March. DM