UPM launches High Court action to dissolve Makana Council

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Court papers were today served on Makana Municipality, calling for the Provincial Executive to urgently implement Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution and dissolve the local Council.

The Mayor, Municipal Manager and Makana Council, the Eastern Cape Premier, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Co-operative Governance, as well as the President of South Africa are among 15 respondents named in a High Court application. The application is brought by the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) to force a local election and to have a “competent and experienced” administrator appointed to run local government.

The documents cite multiple crises in Makana and say these are due to the municipality’s failure to adhere to the principles of good governance.

“The inability of the municipality to provide basic services, and to meet its financial obligations, has been manifest for a number of years and the municipality has been in persistent breach of its obligations to provide basic services at Makhanda,” the application states.

“The municipality has been guilty of gross service delivery failures and has been unable to provide basic essential services to the residents of the municipality for a number of years now.”

It argues that numerous requests were made for the Province to intervene and successive 139(1)(b) administrations had failed.

“Although the MEC appointed administrators in terms of Section 139(1)(b) of the Constitution on two separate occasions… this has not alleviated Makhanda’s problems and they have now resulted in a disaster for the city.”

The papers cite a range of crises in the municipality and documents accompany the application to support allegations including:

  • unsustainable debt that this year had risen to R170 million;
  • failure to manage staff;
  • multiple ongoing sewage spills in Makhanda;
  • failure to plan effectively for the drought and to assure Makhanda’s water supply and quality;
  • air pollution as a result of burning waste at the municipal landfill;
  • repeated threats from Eskom of power cuts after electricity revenue was diverted to salaries;
  • ineffective waste removal;
  • poor road infrastructure maintenance;
  • livestock being allowed to roam freely and
  • inadequate fire-fighting equipment.

The Attorneys of Record in the matter are Wheeldon Rushmere and Cole. Advocates Izak Smuts SC, Gavin Brown and Thandwefika Mgidlana are instructed by Attorney Brin Brody. Brody said, “The application was brought by the UPM because they are the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Municipal Manager Moppo Mene confirmed that the papers, dated 26 February, were served on the Municipality today, 27 February.

“Yes we have received papers. It is up to Council to decide whether to oppose or not. I will advise the Speaker and the Mayor,” Mene said.

If no notice to oppose the application, is received, the documents say, the application will be made in the High Court in Makhanda (Grahamstown) on 9 April 2019.

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