Cape Town – The Department of Cooperative Governance is working on a bill that will deal with the inconsistencies in the application of a constitutional provision allowing for intervention in municipalities.
This was revealed by Deputy Minister Parks Tau on responding to oral questions in the National Assembly about municipalities under administration.
Tau said there were 39 municipalities that were under administration across the country, with the largest number in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
He said some of the administrators sent to fix the troubled councils faced problems in the implementation, particularly due to inconsistencies in the application of Section 139 of the Constitution.
Tau also said there were inadequate reporting systems and some interventions were reliant on one individual to solve systematic and structural challenges that have been at a troubled council for a long time.
“We are working on an Intergovernmental Support and Intervention Bill which will articulate how intervention should be addressed,” he said.
“We established a task team with the Treasury to develop a joint approach on how to effectively support municipalities under intervention and respond to challenges encountered in the implementation.
“This joint approach will be implemented in collaboration with provinces,” Tau added.
He would not say when the bill would be referred to Parliament since it was undergoing a consultation processes.
The deputy minister dismissed the suggestion that interventions failed because administrators allocated tenders to their friends and continued to make the situation worse instead of ensuring stabilisation.
“We can’t conclusively stand here saying the reasons for failure to succeed to implement intervention is as a result of supply chain management processes. In fact, we do not have a report that is consolidated and suggests challenges are as result of such failures,” he said.
“I should say various studies have been undertaken, including an independent study by the Public Affairs Rights Institute, to determine what the challenges are with regard to implementation of Section 139 and this has not translated to what is offered by (the) honourable member as reasons.”
Asked about the intervention by the national department when provinces failed to act, Tau said they should be circumspect until such time they collectively established there was a direct failure, inability or reluctance to implement intervention by a province.
“Our starting point should be to support provinces to undertake their obligations and also exercise oversight in local government. It should be under exceptional circumstances that the national government invokes Section 139.7 and directly intervenes,” he said.
“Our focus is to provide support to provinces to undertake in their primary mandate in relation to local government.”