Dispute over municipalities’ merger

The Chris Hani district municipality.
The Chris Hani district municipality.
Image: Google Maps

The department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) has hit back at Enoch Mgijima mayor Sisisi Tolashe, saying there was never a request to submit a report about the amalgamation of three municipalities in 2016.

On Tuesday, Tolashe blamed the provincial government and Chris Hani district municipality for allegedly failing to provide her with the reports detailing the financial status of Inkwanca, Lukhanji and Tsolwana municipalities that were amalgamated to form Enoch Mgijima.

But Cogta spokesperson Mamkeli Ngam said the department’s role was to provide policy guidelines and act as a dispute resolution mechanism where disputes arose.

“From the onset, Cogta wishes to state that it is not aware of any correspondence that was received from [the] executive mayor of Enoch Mgijima requesting reports about the amalgamation process.”

He said Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa’s first role was to promote Section 14(5) notices in terms of Municipal Structures Act.

The section allowed the establishment of committees that were to handle all matters before the amalgamation to allow the smooth running and transition towards the new entities, Ngam said.

“All the affected municipalities were members of those district structures and had responsibilities of individually reporting to the various workstreams on matters that were affecting their municipalities,” he said.

Ngam said a technical change management committee (TCMC), chaired by then Chris Hani municipal manager Moppo Mene consolidated the reports. The committee then reported to the political CMC (PCMC) that was chaired by former Chris Hani mayor Mxolisi Koyo.

He said the meetings of the TCMC and the PCMC were where decisions taken were to be endorsed by councils of the merging municipalities in line with the Section 14 (5) notice.

At the departmental level, he said, a provincial transformation committee was established to:

Provide policy guidelines to CMCs;

Act as a dispute resolution mechanism where disputes arose at CMC level; and

Exercise oversight, support and guide the CMCs in the restructuring process.

“It was clear that the CMCs were efficiently handling their matters at the municipal level,” he said.

“This then highlights the fact that all reports that were to be generated by either the work stream or the CMCs were with the district municipality.”