The Democratic Alliance in the Bhisho Legislature will be requesting the national Minister for Local Government, Richard Baloyi, to personally intervene in the Gariep Municipality.

The bankruptcy of the Gariep local authority is a source of acute embarrassment and is undermining local government in the province.

I have today spoken and written to my colleague in parliament, John Steenhuizen MP (DA spokesperson on Local Government) and he has undertaken to write to Minister Baloyi in this regard.

We have suggested that the minister urgently requests the Eastern Cape MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, to invoke a section 139 intervention in this municipality.

On Friday (subs: 26 Oct) a Warrant of Execution from Tractionel Enterprises against the Gariep Municipality was ordered in the amount of R2, 3 million.

Some weeks ago Warrants of Execution against the beleaguered municipality were issued for unpaid debt.

Other unpaid accounts include:

  • Eskom bulk electricity R6, 521 121 (150 days);
  • PAYE deductions: R2, 043 993 (1 year);
  • Pensions/retirement deductions: R4, 138 674 (over 1 year);
  • Trade creditors: R7, 631 888 (over 1 year); and
  • Auditor General: R2, 213 455 (1 year)

In terms of section 139 Local Government may intervene in a municipality where it does not or cannot fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution or Legislation and the relevant provincial executive may intervene by taking appropriate steps to ensure fulfilment of that obligation.

I have on numerous previous occasions requested the MEC to invoke section 139 to rescue Gariep, which he refuses to do.

The MEC wishes to invoke section 154 of the Constitution which allows national and provincial governments by legislative and other measures to support and strengthen capacity of municipalities.

This 154 intervention should be invoked when a rescue plan in terms of section 139 is in place.

Applying section 154 before invoking section 139 is like applying a plaster over a gunshot wound.

It is alleged that the Honourable MEC has a close friendship with the Municipal Manager of Gariep. Could this relationship be the underlying reason why the MEC is being diffident in showing authority in the Gariep saga?

The longer this fiasco continues, the longer the people of Gariep will suffer and be denied opportunities. Service delivery will continue to fail. Lack of economic investment and confidence in Gariep is curtailed because of this ongoing economic fiasco.