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Province takes on minister

The ANC’s North West provincial leadership has dared Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka to act on his threat to take control of the province’s municipalities and accused Shiceka of trying to make the province “ungovernable”.

Said provincial secretary Supra Mahumapelo: “The accumulated governance challenges of the past 15 years cannot be oversimplified by simply playing to the gallery and falling into the agenda of those who seek to render the province ungovernable.”

Mahumapelo said it would be illegal for Shiceka to invoke section 100 (b) of the Constitution to act on the municipalities, based on a political process undertaken by the ANC.

“Our position is that a political process cannot substitute for the legal process required for any interventions to be made at any sphere of government,” he said.

Shiceka’s demand for a turnaround strategy for the province’s municipalities is the outcome of a two-month assessment before the elections. This concluded that almost all councils had dysfunctional caucuses; that there was disregard for local government laws and policies; and that service delivery was poor.

Minutes of the task team meeting with the Rustenburg local municipality, dated March 11 2009, referred to the group as a “political task team” established by the ANC national executive committee.

The report also said that Shiceka told those at the meeting that an ANC national executive committee decision to intervene in the province was taken because of “prevailing political instability”, which could have a negative impact on governance and service provision.

Shiceka’s office maintained this week that his team was a ministerial task team and that the current North West premier, Maureen Modiselle, in her capacity as finance minister at the time, was part of it.

Section 100 of the Constitution allows the national government to take responsibility for the relevant obligation in a province. Prior notice of intervention should, however, be tabled in the National Council of Provinces.

Mahumapelo said the provincial executive committee was not necessarily opposed to national intervention, provided Shiceka proved that the national and provincial governments had tried to assist and support municipalities, as envisaged by section 154 (1) of the Constitution.

The provincial exco decided last week that it would prefer the North West government to work on the problems Shiceka identified.

Mahumapelo said that to assist municipalities the province could invoke section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act, which empowers the provincial local and traditional affairs minister, Gordon Kegakilwe, to order an investigation.

Shiceka’s spokesperson, Vuyelwa Qinga Vika, said the minister was acting in the interests of the North West’s people to achieve stability and efficient service delivery.

“There is an internal government-to-government discussion going on that needs to be respected and dealt with sensitively, as the issue impacts on service delivery matters and local communities,” said Vika.

The battle for control of the North West between the ANC provincial exco and some ANC national leaders appears to be intensifying.

The Mail & Guardian also possesses a letter Shiceka wrote to the acting municipal manager of the Greater Taung council, Charl du Plessis, warning him against following Mahumapelo’s “illegal and unconstitutional instruction” to expel 18 councillors who joined the opposition in a petition two weeks ago to remove the ANC mayor, Boitumelo Mahlangu.

Mahumapelo justified the councillors’ expulsion by referring to a letter from ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe to provincial secretaries in February, in which he communicated an NEC decision to expel party members who work with other parties in opposition to the ANC.

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Mmanaledi Mataboge
Guest Author

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