Court orders Makana council to be dissolved

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The Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda has ordered premier Oscar Mabuyane's executive to dissolve the Makana council and appoint an administrator until a new council is formed.

In a ground-breaking judgment, delivered on Tuesday, judge Igna Stretch said the municipality failed to provide services to the community and was thus in breach of the constitution.

The Unemployed People's Movement (UPM) took the municipality to court, arguing that it was in breach of the constitution by failing to provide services in a sustainable manner.

It also argued that it failed to manage its administration, budgeting and planning processes to give priority to basic needs of the community.

The UPM also listed 15 other respondents, including Mabuyane, the MEC for Cogta Xolile Nqatha and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the judgment, Stretch said: "The conduct of the municipality in failing to ensure the provision of services to its community in a sustainable manner, in failing to promote a safe and healthy environment for its community, in failing to structure and manage its administration, budget and planning process, in failing to give priority to the basic needs of its community, and in failing to promote the social and economic development of its community, is inconsistent with the constitution... and is declared invalid to the extent of these inconsistencies."

She ordered the provincial executive to "implement a recovery plan aimed at securing Makana Municipality's ability to meet its obligations to provide basic services and to meet its financial commitments". 

Mabuyane's executive was ordered to "dissolve the municipal council, to appoint an administrator until a newly-elected municipal council has been declared elected, and to approve a temporary budget or revenue-raising  measures or any other measures intended to give effect to the aforesaid recovery plan to provide for the continued functionality of Makana Municipality".

ANC chair of the Sarah Baartman district, Scara Njadayi, said the ANC was yet to receive and study the judgment.

“Once we receive the judgment, we will look at the gravity of the content.

“But obviously we are going to encourage the Makana council, the municipality and also lobby our counterparts at provincial level to appeal that decision,” he said.

“It is not going to serve the people of Makhanda very well because we are approaching the local government elections very soon.

“Structurally we are taking the route of appealing that judgment,” Njadayi said.

The DA constituency leader in Makhanda, Kevin Mileham, said the DA welcomes the decision for the judgment. 

“The DA welcomes the dissolution of this council, it has been something that we have been calling for an extensive period.

“The Makana council and the municipality have been failing the residents for a very long time as evidence by sewage flowing in the streets, lack of water and most recently a child who lost their life in a municipal playground due to a failure to maintain equipment despite numerous requests,” he said.