Makana Council in the Eastern Cape is meeting Friday to discuss their response after a landmark High Court ruling Tuesday, ordering the municipality to be dissolved and put under administration.
In the first judgment of its kind in South Africa, the Eastern Cape’s Provincial Executive has been ordered to dissolve Makana Municipality and appoint an administrator until a new council is elected.
The mayor and municipal manager, in their personal capacities, face a punitive cost order, along with various national and provincial government entities.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane said the application of the judgment would be suspended until the provincial government had decided how to respond to it.
“The judgment has far reaching implications and the Eastern Cape Provincial government is considering appealing the judgment,” Mabuyane told local paper Grocotts Mail.
“Therefore, the application of the judgment, or its effect, will be suspended until such time as a final decision is taken in this regard.”
Civic groups who launched the legal action called on the government to accept and act on the judgment.
“Council has not yet met and only council can make a decision about our response,” responded Makana Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa, Grocott’s Mail reported.
He said a recommendation to councillors would come out of Friday’s meeting.
The applicants, the Unemployed People’s Movement (UPM) and the Grahamstown Residents Association (GRA), said the judgement is part of the “democratic process.”
“It [would be] an indictment on the part of the government to oppose the will of the people. It would indeed be a dark moment for our city and our country,” the UPM’s Ayanda Kota said.
“People were united across the spectrum against the political elite of the city… it’s democracy… we hope they will accept that it’s part of the democratic process… they must take their things and go home.”
In a statement issued, GRA chairperson Philip Machanick said: “I see reports that ANC structures are calling for the judgment to be appealed because of the precedent it sets. I propose a different precedent for the government: start governing. That is all we ask.
Judge Igna Stretch’s two-page order said Makana had failed to provide services to the community in a sustainable manner, promote a safe and healthy environment, structure and manage its administration, budgeting and planning processes, prioritise the community’s needs and promote its social and economic development.
“Civil society has refused to accept this as normal; the extremely diverse constituencies who have stood up for positive change attest to that. We are not the opposition: we are the people government is meant to serve.“
“The GRA calls on government to accept this judgment as a wake-up call and stop resisting the inevitable – a comprehensive intervention to turn things around,” Machanick said.