Municipal boundary changes irrational and will hurt communities

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Limpopo Provincial Leader:

The DA has already filed North Gauteng High Court papers seeking an urgent review of the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) decisions to amalgamate and redefine some municipalities without proper consultation with the affected communities.

After a series of community unrest protests such as in Vuwani, Makhado and Malamulele, the DA condemns unilateral decisions to re-determine Limpopo municipalities.

We contend these are riddled with political bias and are suspiciously illogical and irrational.

The DA in Limpopo has already written to the Demarcation Board and to the Provincial IEC to interrogate which of the criteria in Section 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act was considered when deciding to:

  • Amalgamate Fetagomo and Greater Tubatse local municipalities into one municipal area;
  • Amalgamate Modimolle and Mookgopong local municipalities into one municipal area;
  • Discard Mutale municipality and distribute its people into areas of Musina and Thulamela municipalities;
  • Establish a new municipality comprising of portions of Makhado and Thulamela municipalities;
  • Disestablish Aganang municipality with its portions incorporated into areas of Polokwane, Molemole and Blouberg municipalities.

The DA has noted the overwhelming number of Limpopo residents, particularly within the community of Vuwani,  who complain about the lack of consultation with all parties as required by the Municipal Demarcation Act 27 of 1998.

Although the process of merging municipalities is driven by financial viability and sustainability, the decision by the board to amalgamate Fetakgomo with Greater Tubatse, especially, is highly irrational considering that both municipalities received disclaimer/adverse audit findings as stipulated in the Auditor General MFMA Report 2013/14.

The amalgamation of both Modimole and Mookgopong has been approved despite both having received qualified audits with findings.

If these municipalities could not be managed separately and the AG’s recommendations that the root causes for poor performance are still not addressed, how can the Demarcation Board possibly justify these mergers?

The DA urges the Board as well as the IEC to provide the record of decision, including the socio-economic considerations and impacts, to show if there was any rationality in these decisions.