Communities outraged by the actions of the Demarcation Board

By Cllr Marina van Zyl, Gariep Caucus:

Communities are concerned about the newly merged Maletswai and Gariep Municipalities.

For a voice clip in English click here.

For a voice clip in Afrikaans click here.

Outraged community members of the newly merged Maletswai and Gariep Municipalities have come together to voice their concerns:  firstly regarding the choice to merge these two failing municipalities to become one municipality (Eskom debt totalling a staggering R110 million), and secondly concerns over ward delimitation that has taken place.

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) has clearly allowed the ANC to interfere in the demarcation process and allowed them to manipulate the wards to best suit them.  The MDB’s first ward proposals brought to the community differ quite radically from the wards that are published in the Gazette.

It seems as if the proposal made by the Democratic Alliance was not considered at all.  The MDB must, according to the Municipal Structures Act (Act 117 of 1998), delimit the wards following the criteria set out in Schedule 1.

The gazetted new wards do not comply with the criteria set out in Schedule 1, namely that the MDB must as far as possible avoid the fragmentation of communities; the topography and physical characteristics of the wards; and lastly the identification of ward boundaries.

The proposed wards include split voting districts which will confuse voters, force them to reregister in a different ward as well as fragment the communities to which they actually belong.  The farming areas may look close to a certain voting district, but are in fact quite far as the terrain to travel is not suitable for even the best 4 x 4 bakkie.

The proposals that the MDB brought, which have been gazetted, still do not even indicate the ward boundary by means of street name, rail line or river and is only a black line on a very poor map.  It is very unclear as to which voters will be split to form part of newly delimited split wards.

Today, I will be submitting the final objections to the MDB regarding the delimitation of wards as per Gazette No. 3544. (Click here for a copy of the Gazette and the map)

The DA will continue fighting for communities where good governance is based on our principles of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.

MEC wastes taxpayer’s money opposing DA on MDB

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Limpopo Provincial Leader:

The Limpopo Cooperative Governance MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje, is opposing the DA’s intention to file a court interdict with North Gauteng High Court seeking an urgent review of the Municipal Demarcation Board’s (MDB) decisions to amalgamate various municipalities at the expense of taxpayer’s money.

The DA took the legal route after the decision was taken without proper consultation with the affected communities. It then decided to take the MDB, the various Provincial MEC’s, the affected municipalities as well as the  Minister who appointed council for all these parties,  to court.

Only the Limpopo MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje, is opposing this action which is a clear indication  that MEC Makhurupetje is motivated by a political agenda.

The DA believes that the decision to amalgamate these municipalities is already riddled with political bias and is suspiciously illogical and irrational.

The decision includes:

  • Amalgamating Fetagomo and Greater Tubatse local municipalities into one municipal area;
  • The amalgamation of Modimolle and Mookgopong local municipalities into one municipal area;
  • Discarding Mutale municipality and distributing its people into areas of Musina and Thulamela municipalities;
  • Establishing a new municipality comprising of portions of Makhado and Thulamela municipalities;
  • De-establishing Aganang municipality with its portions incorporated into areas of Polokwane, Molemole and Blouberg municipalities.

The DA believes that the MEC’s intention to oppose this matter is a frivolous attempt to influence the municipal boundaries in favour of the ANC.

The DA will be submitting series of written questions to the MEC in the legislature to determine the actual costs of this fruitless and wasteful exercise whose   estimated litigation costs will no doubt be at the expense of taxpayers.

Opposition for Tlokwe and Ventersdorp merger is widespread

By Joe McGluwa (MP), DA North West Leader:

The opposition to the merger of Tlokwe and Ventersdorp Municipalities is widespread across political parties, civil society and community groupings.

Thousands of independent community members were part of a violent protest against the proposal recently and took to the streets of Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp in September. It is sad that communities have to turn to such extreme measures to get the attention of government on issues affecting their lives.

DA members were not part of that protest as we are fighting the merger in Court, not on the streets. On 26 October 2015 the matter will be heard in Court, and we are positive that the court will rule in favour of the DA and in favour of what is right for the people of Tlokwe and Ventersdorp.

The DA can also reveal that even the ANC local government in Ventersdorp has opposed the merger through a council decision against the merger of the two municipalities.

It is absolutely clear that momentum is building behind the opposition to the merger, of which the DA is but one part, but so is the ANC government in Ventersdorp.

The ANC knows they have lost their grip on power in Potchefstroom and they are now desperate to ensure they keep the reigns in the Tlokwe Municipality without having to face an election in Tlokwe.

The DA will utilize every possible resource to ensure that the Constitution is upheld and that law and order prevail.

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.

DA will continue to oppose Tlokwe merger in the High Court, as residents clearly reject the merger with violent protests

By Juanita Terblanche (MP), DA Constituency Head, Tlokwe Municipality,Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp:

The Democratic Alliance in North West condemns the looting of buildings and violence during protests that escalated this weekend.

The vandalism and arson of the Venterdorp Local Municipal buildings last night is a horrible result of the ANC government’s neglect and contempt for resident’s views, which are opposed to the merger of Tlokwe  Municipality and Ventersdorp Municipality,

The ANC government and the Demarcation Board have long given up listening to Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp residents who clearly fear the amalgamation but have no say in this critical decision. Participatory democracy and the values of people-centred government have been destroyed by the ANC in the North West.

The DA is concerned that the Tlokwe Municipality/Ventersdorp merger shows signs of mimicking the Khutsong and Matateile cross-border protests, where the government only really listened to grievances after resident had to turn violent to stop it. Today the ANC forces communities to turn violent before government listens.

The ANC cannot shift the blame for the Ventersdorp violence to anyone but themselves. The DA is opposing this merger in the High Court, but never through violence on the streets.

The ANC’s disregard for community voices and reckless comments by ANC officials is what sparked this turmoil.

The violence started after comments from the ANC Provincial Secretary Dakota Legoete, who during a radio debate with the DA on Thursday evening about the amalgamation, said “people can march, do whatever they want to – it will not bring them anything, it will not change the ANC’s viewpoint”.

These words were the last straw for an ignored community and they sparked protests and disruptions currently ongoing in Ikageng, Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp.

In a fair society the DA government would have taken the community views as paramount and would have given a fair hearing to the community most affected.

We sympathize with residents who are ignored by the ANC who wants to push the merger through before the 2016 elections. They know their days as the governing party in the Tlokwe Municipality are numbered.

It is not in the nature of the DA to participate in destructive protests and we will continue to fight the amalgamation in Court.

The DA will bring this case before the High Court in Pretoria on 29 September 2015

Lekgoete’s comments sparks unrest and disruptions in Tlokwe

By Cllr. Chris Landsberg, DA Caucus Leader, Tlokwe, Potchefstroom:

The DA condemns the comments made by ANC Provincial Secretary Dakota Lekgoete, during a radio debate in which the DA also participated on Thursday evening. The debate was about the proposed amalgamation of Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp.

During the debate, Lekgoete said “people can march, do whatever they want to – it will not bring them anything, it will not change the ANC’s viewpoint” . These words sparked protests and disruptions currently ongoing in Ikageng, Potchefstroom.

Residents already planned a peaceful community march to the municipal offices today to hand over a petition with their grievances against the amalgamation. However, immediately after Lekgoete was heard on radio, residents took to the streets last night – displaying their dismay.

The DA condemns the violence and disruptions associated with the protests. Residents suffer under the rule of the ANC and are denied their democratic right to voice their opinion. They suffer while the ruling party only looks out for those connected to the ANC.

The DA opposes the amalgamation as it will have a negative impact on Potchefstroom’s financial position. Ventersdorp struggles with non-payment and a poor collection rate. Residents from both towns share the DA’s objection that service delivery will suffer even more if these two towns should merge.

The DA also wants to state that these protests are a direct result of the Demarcation Board who follows political instructions by Min. Pravin Gordhan.

Lack of proper consultation by the Demarcation Board, is a clear display of the ANC’s arrogance to dismiss residents’ grievances and their right to participate in decision making that will influence their lives.

It is not in the nature of the DA to participate in destructive protests and wants to emphasize that DA members are instructed not to participate. The DA, however questions if Potch/Tlowke will become a Khutsong, before the ANC listen to the community.

The DA will continue to fight the amalgamation and ensure the ANC is stopped in its tracks to continue with actions like these that they only do for political gain and not in the interest of the people of this area

Vuwani unrest: DA calls for calm

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Provincial Leader:

The DA condemns the looting of shops as well the closure of schools in Vuwani as the community unrest continues protesting against the proposed inclusion into a newly demarcated Malamulele Municipality.

Last night , angry residents of Vuwani opted to loot and burn the local shops and disrupts the smooth running of the schools as the community continues to protest against the proposed inclusion into a newly demarcated Malamulele Municipality.

This follows the support and promises made by the ANC that Malumulele will get its own Municipality. Due to pressure by the ANC , the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) pronounced that Vuwani will be amalgamated with Malamulele and be renamed the Malamulele-Vuwani Municipality without following due public process.

The angry community want to be excluded from the merge and opts to remain with Makhado Municipality as they are concerned about poor services from the newly proposed municipality. The violence is as a results of false expectations and not following a transparent and due processes to establish this municipality.

It is unacceptable for protestors to shut down schools and prevent people from going to work.

All these protests across the province could have been avoided and it’s a clear indication that people are tired of empty promises and demands basis services to be accelerated but the government continues to fail them.

Our DA Values’ Charter states that a government must be accountable to the people and must reflect the will of the people and that elected representatives must be directly accountable to the people.

We are deeply concerned about the school’s closure due to service delivery unrest and the department’s failure to enhance security measures at our schools.

The DA will try to engage with the residents of Vuwani, to direct their efforts at a proper complaint against the municipal demarcation board and to lodge their objection to the MDB decision.

Nxuba community cries foul over demarcation process

By Cllr Cecilia Auld, DA Nxuba Caucus:

The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) have once again allowed the ANC to manipulate and interfere in the demarcation process regardless of objections from the communities affected.

In a truly democratic South Africa, communities have the freedom to engage with a government that is committed to fairness, transparency and responsiveness.  The people of Nxuba  (Adelaide and Bedford) have not been given this opportunity.

A letter sent to Cooperative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan from the Chairperson of the MDB, Jane Thupana last week and leaked to the Democratic Alliance, makes it abundantly clear that Nxuba and Nkonkobe (Alice, Fort Beaufort, Hogsback, Middeldrift, Seymour) municipalities will be merged.

This decision has been made despite the Nxuba communities’ unanimous vocal objection to being amalgamated with Nkonkobe. It is also apparent that the many petitions and well-researched submissions made to the MDB from various stakeholder groups within the community have been ignored.

I have informed the various stakeholder groups with the Nxuba community of this decision and we are all crying foul.

We very much doubt that the MDB even bothered to examine the various submissions because if they did, they would then have been able to appreciate just how negatively this proposed amalgamation is going to affect the Nxuba.

All our objections were based on section 24 and 25 of the Demarcation Act, 1998, and also Section 2 of the Structures Act, 1998 and gave explicit reasons why the amalgamation was unacceptable and how it even contradicted government’s own legislation and its purported commitment to the people.

What further supports our claim, is that reliable sources within the upper echelons of the ANC itself informed me that the decision to amalgamate Nxuba and Nkonkobe municipalities was taken long before the MDB even commenced with their public participation roadshow, this in itself mere window dressing designed to appease the local communities and to tick appropriate boxes.

This blatant manipulation of a process that was flawed at the outset cannot be left unchallenged.

This proposed amalgamation did not comply with Chapter 2 Sec 12 of the Municipal Structures Act, namely that the MEC for Cooperative Governance must, at the commencement of the process to establish a municipality, give written notice of the proposed establishment to organised local government in the province and any existing municipalities that may be affected by the establishment of the municipality and before publishing a notice in terms of this section, consult  organised local government in the province, and the existing municipalities affected by the proposed  establishment.  Only after such consultation, can the MDB publish particulars of the proposed notice for public comment.

Some of the issues now facing the community in this area include:

  • It will dilute the right of citizens in Nxuba to accountable and democratic local government;
  • The ability of providing equitable and sustainable services to residents within Nxuba will be affected negatively;
  • Rates and taxes will increase significantly to provide an acceptable level of service to all, as Nkonkobe is made up of many small villages with no tax base; and
  • Large municipalities in South Africa are more expensive to run and their staff compliments increase after amalgamation and never decrease.

Doing away with one municipality in a poor rural region by collapsing it into a neighbouring municipality is likely to do little to dent entrenched poverty and poor service if it is simply incorporated into a teetering, only marginally viable neighbour such as Nkonkobe. The reality of deeply entrenched poverty in a region means enlarging municipalities in rural areas will only act to de-stabilise relatively more stable municipalities and ultimately the region as a whole.

Realistically, unless national government provides long-term additional grant funding for such incorporated areas (a big ask in fiscally strained times), amalgamation may result in the further marginalisation and neglect of already poor urban, peri-urban and rural communities. It will certainly not assist in creating one larger, more financially viable municipality.

The people of Nxuba deserve a quality local government that will deliver basic services, create jobs and fight poverty, crime and corruption.

The DA will continue fighting for communities where good governance is based on our principles of freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.

Demarcation Board’s irrational proposals will undermine service delivery in Nelson Mandela Bay

By Athol Trollip (MPL), Mayoral Candidate: Nelson Mandela Bay:

The DA in Nelson Mandela Bay has objected to the latest irrational proposals by the Demarcation Board, which will undermine service delivery, divide communities and prejudice competing political parties.

The latest proposals from the Demarcation Board seek to allocate a disproportionate number of voters to ANC wards.

The proposals will, on average, see approximately 9 000 voters or less in ANC wards as opposed to over     11 000 voters in DA wards.

What this means in practice is that you will only need 9 000 voters to elect a councillor in ANC wards while you will need 11 000 voters to elect a councillor in DA wards. This will prejudice competing political parties and stretch the service delivery resources of an already cash strapped municipality to breaking point.

The Demarcation Board’s rejection of the DA’s comprehensive inputs flies in the face of the Board’s own values and commitment to a fair and inclusive process that “seeks to deepen democracy and promote local governance”.

For all intents and purposes the call for public participation is nothing more than a cosmetic feature of a predetermined outcome.

The DA believes that the delimitation of wards should be done in a fair, and rational manner and should ensure that the outcomes do not discriminate against communities by undermining service delivery.

The Demarcation Board’s proposal for Schauderville, for example, is that it be divided into three wards with the N2 separating one part of the community from the other.

Apart from flying in the face of its own guidelines stipulating that each cluster of voting districts must form a contiguous ward, the Board’s proposal will impact negatively on service delivery and divide this community.

Ward delimitation should not seek to produce a predetermined outcome that suits a particular political party’s agenda. The delimitation process should be fair and conducted in the interests of the affected communities.

The DA will consider taking whatever necessary steps to challenge the Demarcation Board where they are in clear breach of their own guidelines.

We will do this to ensure that fairness is upheld in this process so as to guarantee that all communities receive fair and equitable access to service delivery.

West Rand metro: MDB shelves merger

By Alan Fuchs MPL, DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Mogale City:

The DA is delighted by the announcement of the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to postpone its decision on the possible merger of the Mogale City, Randfontein, Merafong and Westonaria municipalities into a single metropolitan municipality until after the 2016 local government elections.

The decision is a marvellous victory for democracy, and the DA is pleased to see the MDB demonstrate its independence by not conceding to the whims of national government.

The DA is of the view that the MDB should not have been forced to apply their minds on the creation of a West Rand Metropolitan municipality at this stage, and with it being this close to the local government election, cooperative governance minister Pravin Gordhan jeopardised the poll with his late proposals.

In fact, the DA strongly believes no demarcation change proposals should be made or entertained within two years of an election taking place.

The DA has long held the view that there are other means to achieve financial stability, economic growth and investment in the West Rand and elsewhere, and that other legislative means should first have been followed to build capacity in underperforming municipalities.

The West Rand area has great potential, which does not require government by a dominant ruling party to achieve this.

Local choice should always be respected and residents and the ANC may well see a change in government in one or more West Rand municipal councils after next year’s elections.

The DA is committed to provide alternative good governance, better service delivery and economic upliftment in the West Rand, and we will go to every effort to bring the DA difference to the lives of residents.

It is a well-known and accepted fact that where the DA governs, life is better – and a better quality of life awaits everybody should they cast their vote for the DA in the 2016 local government elections.