National intervention at Mafube?
On 7 April the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) announced that Cabinet approved the intervention in terms of Section 139(7) of the Constitution in the Mangaung Metropolitan municipality. Mangaung (Bloemfontein) have been experiencing significant financial and service delivery failures for a prolonged period. On top of an unethical organisational culture, this is mostly due to poor financial management, shortage of skills and an ineffective (or non-existent) performance management system. As a consequence of national intervention, mandatory dissolution of the Mangaung municipal council is to follow.
The intervention at Mangaung went almost unnoticed in the media and Mafube residents might not be aware of the significance of this “ultimate step” taken by the National government. It follows after the Free State provincial government failed for more than two years to implement its financial recovery plan at Mangaung, casting serious doubt on the ability and capacity of the provincial leadership to fulfil its constitutional obligations where and when intervention is enacted. One would imagine that Bloemfontein, as the seat of provincial government, would have been prioritised, and all available resources made available to effect a recovery at the metro.
In the run-up to the High Court challenge by Mafube Business Forum (MBF), the provincial department of CoGTA in an affidavit,went to great lengths to show that the open-ended discretionary intervention at Mafube since 2017 was successful but when the case was heard in court, it was admitted that, like at Mangaung, the crucial Municipal Financial Recovery Plan (MFRP) was never implemented. Astonishingly, despite failing in this regard and with clear evidence of not improving service delivery, a decision was made by the Provincial Executive to suspend intervention at Mafube Local Municipality, as from 30 March 2021. In a somewhat curious twist, advocates acting on behalf of all respondents (including the Presidency and National Treasury),admitted that this decision was premature and averred that intervention by the provincial authorities in terms of section 139(4) and (5) “is imminent”.
With the evident failure at Mangaung, it is now less likely for the “imminent” provincial intervention to ensue at Mafube. MBF therefore are cautiously optimistic that the National Executive will indeed commit to section 139(7) intervention at Mafube, whether through a Cabinet decision or by order of the High Court.
MBF remain of the conviction that only through national intervention, the implementation of the “Mafube Stakeholders’ Compact”, active involvement by the business sector and residents, will our municipality re-emerge as a functioning entity, to serve our community as envisaged in local government legislation and our national constitution.
Visit our offices at 18A Church Street during our business hours, on Mondays to Thursdays from 08h30 to 16h00 and Fridays from 08h30 to 12h30, or contact Marina on WhatsApp at 079 145 4295, send an email to email@example.com, or visit www.mafubebf.org
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