Bhisho takes over Enoch Mgijima

Municipal manager mulls contesting the decision in court

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle.
Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle.
Image: Sino Majangaza / File

Premier Phumulo Masualle has given cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa the green light to place Enoch Mgijima municipality under administration.

The decision to invoke sections 139 (1) (b) of the constitution was taken at a cabinet meeting on August 1, and communicated this week by provincial government spokesperson Sonwabo Mbananga.

Once appointed, the administrator will manage the municipality’s affairs while municipal manager Chris Magwangqana, who was tasked with turning the local authority around, will be sidelined, but will continue drawing a salary.

Mbananga said the decision to appoint an administrator was cast in stone.

“Cabinet has mandated Cogta MEC Fikile Xasa to appoint an administrator to assume the responsibility on the financial affairs on behalf of the Exco.

“Cabinet also endorsed invoking the mandatory provisions of section 139 (5) of the constitution to request the municipal financial recovery services to assess the causes for the crisis and develop a financial recovery plan,” he said.

Cabinet also endorsed invoking the mandatory provisions of section 139 (5) of the constitution to request the municipal financial recovery services to assess the causes for the crisis and develop a financial recovery plan,

The move comes after months of calls from opposition parties, civil society and residents. However, on Wednesday, Komani Residents Association secretary Axolile Masiza predicted that Bhisho’s intervention would not improve service delivery, and demanded council be dissolved too.

ANC Komani cluster co-ordinator Mxolisi Oliphant said no intervention was needed from Bhisho, and mayor Sisisi Tolashe was more than capable of stabilising the municipality.

“With what has been achieved in the mayor’s 100 days in office, there is no one who is sober-minded who can invoke that section in this municipality. We have managed to pay all the debts, appointed managers and we don’t know where they are basing their intervention,” he said.

Oliphant said as branches of the ANC in Komani, they will make it a point that their voices are heard. “We were expecting that they would bring section 154 to the municipality bringing support to it. When the administrator comes, he will be paid and they will also be paying the municipal manager who will not be doing work as all his duties will be done by the administrator,” he said.

Bhisho will foot the bill for the administrator as he or she will be seconded to the position.

Municipal spokesperson Fundile Feketshane said they were unaware of Bhisho’s plans.

Magwangqana, who also said the decision was yet to be communicated to them, hinted at possibly taking the provincial government to court over the move. “Depending on the reasoning there might be cause or not for going to court,” he said.

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