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Cabinet to mull dissolution of dysfunctional Enoch Mgijima municipality as Dlamini-Zuma angers residents

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Fani Mahuntsi, Gallo Images

  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma received a hostile reception on Monday when she visited the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape. 
  • Residents in the area have been protesting for months demanding that the municipality be dissolved. 
  • Dlamini-Zuma’s office committed to have President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet deliberate on the options of whether Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality should be dissolved. 

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma angered Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality residents when she refused to immediately commit to dissolving the troubled Eastern Cape municipality during a community meeting on Monday. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet will now have to decide whether a case has been made for the dissolution of the Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality.

Dlamini-Zuma received a hostile reception in Komani in the Eastern Cape after residents wrote to her office to demand that she dissolve the municipality, which many claim is dysfunctional. 

The minister angered some residents who insisted they would continue to protest because she refused to commit to a dissolution on the spot, News24 was told on Tuesday. 

Enoch Mgijima residents have been on a prolonged protest, complaining about electricity cuts, potholes, and lack of water. News24 reported how the residents barricaded roads last month, demanding that the municipality be dissolved. 

The Enoch Mgijima Municipality is one of several municipalities flagged by the Auditor-General as not functioning to capacity. 

The ANC announced recently that it would deploy its national executive committee members to troublesome municipalities, with Enoch Mgijima listed as a priority. 

READ | Enoch Mgijima residents want municipality dissolved as protest erupts in Komani over blackouts

On Monday, reports emerged that Dlamini-Zuma had been chased out of the area, but her department says this was untrue. 

Lungi Mtshali, a spokesperson for the department, told News24 that the minister was not chased out of the area, but the community grew unhappy when she refused to decide to dissolve the municipality immediately. 

Decisions on whether a municipality had met the requirements for dissolution varied according to government legislation. 

Mtshali said legislation required the government to explore all available options to save a struggling municipality before dissolving it. 

Dissolving a municipality means fresh elections would be called in the area, a process that could further affect service delivery, Mtshali stated.

The government also had the option of placing a municipality under administration and providing it with national resources to help it recover. 

A similar process was followed in Mangaung in the Free State in 2022 after a recommendation by Dlamini-Zuma and Cabinet. 

“They wrote a letter to her saying she must come, and they want her to dissolve the municipality. They did not send a memorandum. The minister said you could not just dissolve the municipality, but she wanted to hear the issues. A meeting with stakeholders was arranged on 6 February,” Mtshali said.

“We have now drafted a report for Cabinet to consider and decide on the matter. She addressed the residents on that, and they were not happy because all they wanted to hear was that the municipality would be dissolved.” 

READ | Mangaung municipality placed under national administration after Cabinet approval

Dlamini-Zuma does not hold the powers to dissolve the municipality, and there must be evidence that a council is dysfunctional for dissolution to be supported, Mtshali added. 

“The minister does not have the legal right to decide on the spot that she is dissolving a municipality. You can recall in Tshwane, that happened, and then there was a court case, and it was found that processes were not followed. 

“Some people are also calling for no dissolution and instead want the municipality to be supported from a national level just like we did in Mangaung. We have put in a team in Mangaung,” Mtshali said.

Dlamini-Zuma has decided to fast-track the process at Enoch Mgijima, and Cabinet will discuss the matter on 15 February at a meeting, Mtshali confirmed. 

The minister’s visit found the municipality had issues with potholes and problems with revenue collection and electricity, which were compounded by illegal connections. 

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