Judgement reserved – what this means for residents
The community organisation Mafube Business Forum (MBF) as 1st Applicant,together with the lobby group Afriforum, launched a court challenge on behalf of residents and the business community of Frankfort, Villiers, Tweeling and Cornelia. Respondents in the matter are Mafube Local Municipality, MECs and ministers of various national and provincial government departments, and President Cyril Ramaphosa as head of the National Executive. This follows after years of wrangling with the dysfunctional municipality and several government departments, over poor governance and service delivery. MBF and Afriforum wish to make it clear that the court challenge is seen as an avenue of last resort since all other remedies have been exhausted.
The two bodies argued in the Bloemfontein High Court yesterday 27th January, that the municipality is in breach of its constitutional mandate for failing to ensure the provision of services to the community in a sustainable manner, and for its inability to promote a safe and healthy environment for the community. Advocates Frik Erasmus SC and Paul Eilers, on behalf of the Applicants, presented to Judge Ilse van Rhyn, a very solid case for intervention bythe National Executive, and a very convincing argument for the community of Mafube to be allowed to be involved in the resurrection of their failed municipality. No less than 7 advocates with full supporting staff, representing the 17 respondents, opposed the motions put forward by the applicants. Of particular interest was that while national intervention mandates dissolution of the recently-elected municipal council, the respondents’ advocates vehemently opposed this but offered no alternatives. In a poor choice of wording, one of the advocates acting on behalf of the municipality and a number of other respondents, stated that “…the elected council must be allowed to fail.” It is totally unacceptable to prolong the suffering of this community, who cannot afford further lack of service delivery. This illustrates a disconnect on the part of the respondents’ legal representative and a thinly disguised acknowledgement that the newly-elected council have virtually no chance of succeeding. The orders requested from Judge van Rhyn are indeed far-reaching and if granted to the Applicants, will certainly set a precedent, but as admitted by all parties“drastic times call for drastic measures”. The foremost implication of a favourable judgement in this case would mean greater involvement of communities in ensuring transparency, accountability and accessibility as envisaged in local government legislation and our national Constitution.
MBF and their strategic partner Afriforum, look forward to the judgement which is expected within 30 days.
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