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Residents seize control of councils

11 Apr 2011

Mutinous residents have seized control of three ANC-run municipalities and are controlling basic services.

Mutinous residents have seized control of three ANC-run municipalities and are controlling basic services including sewage and water purification as well as refuse removal. The towns are Sannieshof in North West and Ngwatha and Mafube in the Free State.

There are growing levels of rebellion among furious residents in different parts of the country who are fed up with the lack of service delivery or the inability of various municipalities to deliver basic services.

Already 30 ratepayers’ associations are withholding their taxes leaving local authorities about R10-million out-of-pocket and the amounts are growing every month.

Twenty municipalities are bankrupt and being administered by the ANC who has conceded that there are high levels of incompetence in some of the local authorities and structures around the country.

The Democratic Alliance has been quick to capitalise on these issues in the run-up to the municipal elections next months, contrasting the lack of service delivery with the DA’s own performance in Cape Town and Midvaal, the two councils it controls.

The chairman of the Sannieshof Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association, Carin Visser said residents took over the delivery of service more than two years ago in 2008 when they realised that the town was “collapsing”.

The residents are now responsible for cleaning the streets, maintaining the cemetery, repairing streetlights and even supplying the bulbs. A group of retired engineers with the necessary skills and expertise maintain the pumps for the water and sewage system.

However, the residents admit that the water in the town is dirty because the sanitation works needs to be overhauled and repaired and residents use bleach to purify it before use.

Ironically, Sannieshof has an appointed administrator, Tiro Mose – who is believed to earn about R150k a month – along with an acting town manager, Sonwabo Ngcobo who earns a similar salary and claims about R26k a month in travelling allowances.

The town has not produced annual financial statements or produced a budget for the current year. The town’s mayor Manketsi Tlhape is ready with a string of excuses, blaming Mose and Ngcobo for failing to prepare the annual reports or financial statements or table a budget for the year.

She blames the residents for withholding money saying it makes it impossible for the council to deliver services and also says that the town has old trucks that need to be repaired and is without a grader to smooth the dusty roads.

In Mafube – the council responsible for running Heilbron, Parys, Vredefort, Koppies and Edenville – the residents have started running basic services as well. In Parys a trust account has been opened and rates are paid into this account. The money is being used to run essential services. The association recently took the municipality to court for dumping raw sewage into the Vaal River.

The residents have been warned that the withholding of rates is illegal but Co-Operative Governance spokesman, Nkanyiso Ndadane said that the department has encouraged associations to find common ground with the councils and resolve the issues facing them.

He says the department is currently negotiating with ratepayers’ associations to take back service delivery so that the municipalities can “fulfil their constitutional mandate”. He says that the ratepayers must also pay the money from trust accounts into the municipal coffers.

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Paddy Hartdegen

Paddy Hartdegen

Freelance columnist at

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