DA takeover of Cape council a political power grab, says ANC
A war of words has broken out between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance in the Western Cape over the DA provincial government’s decision to place the ANC-led Overberg district municipality under administration.
The ANC has called the move a deliberate attempt to extend the DA’s political power in the province.
But the DA’s provincial minister for local government, environmental affairs and development, Anton Bredell, who took the decision, said the province was forced to act because of the dysfunctional state of the municipality.
Bredell took steps this week to dissolve the district municipality, which governs towns such as Hermanus and Swellendam, because it had failed to pass a budget by July 1, the start of the municipal financial year.
According to Bredell, it also failed to pass an integrated development plan, a transport development plan and a service delivery and budget implementation plan.
The municipality has been plagued by controversy, including the recalling of mayor Maurencia Gillion and speaker Michael Dennis by the ANC itself for underperformance earlier this year.
But Pierre Uys, ANC provincial spokesperson on local government, argued that the move against the council was a deliberate attempt by the DA to extend its influence over the province ahead of the local government elections scheduled for early next year.
He said that Bredell had ignored numerous requests from ANC councillors in the municipality to call a council meeting at which the budget could be passed.
“ANC councillors called for assistance from Bredell, which did not arrive,” he said.
Uys said that in terms of legislation, if Bredell had tried to place the municipality under administration before July, he would have required the permission of both the National Council of Provinces and the national minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs.
Bredell denied these allegations, saying that neither he nor his department had received requests to intervene or assist the council in ensuring that a meeting took place to pass the municipal budget.
He also said that in line with the Constitution and the Municipal Finance Management Act, when a municipality fails to pass a budget the responsible provincial minister is obliged to act.
“My responsibility is to ensure service delivery,” he said.
He pointed out that the nine councillors who would lose their jobs as a result of the provincial takeover of the council came from across the political spectrum.
They comprised three DA councillors, as well as four ANC representatives and two from the National People’s Party. The ANC ruled in coalition with the NPP..