Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has revealed there have been several municipalities where government has been forced to intervene as they face collapse.
This comes against the backdrop of dairy company Clover pulling out of Ditsobotla municipality in North West to Durban due lack of service delivery.
This is Clover’s biggest cheese factory being relocated from the North West town to hundreds of kilometers away in Durban.
In his written reply to a question from DA MP Cilliers Brink Mboweni said there have been a number of municipalities where different stakeholders have gone to court to force provincial government to take over municipalities because they have collapsed.
He said other than the intervention in Lekwa municipality in Mpumalanga, government has been dragged to court in other municipalities across the country to intervene due to the collapse of basic services.
Government was taken to court to intervene in Emalahleni municipality in Mpumalanga by a community. There was also another court action to get the government to intervene in Enoch Mgijima municipality in the Eastern Cape.
There was court action against the provincial governments in Makana municipality in the Eastern Cape and Kannaland municipality in the Western Cape.
In the Free State similar legal action ensued against the provincial government to intervene in Maluti-a-Phofung and Mafube municipalities.
Mboweni said in the Lekwa municipality case Astral Foods had taken the provincial government to court for failing to intervene.
“When the application for a national intervention was first sought by Astral Operations Limited in 2018, it was agreed that a national intervention at that time was premature, since the province had already resolved to intervene in the Lekwa Local Municipality in October 2018.
“A national intervention is a last resort remedy in terms of the hierarchy of interventions outlined in section 139 of the Constitution.
Consequently, the key role players agreed to support the provincial intervention and the application was subsequently held in abeyance to allow the provincial intervention to unfold and for the financial recovery plan to be implemented with the view that the intervention would address the concerns raised by Astral,” said Mboweni.
“However, since the approval of the financial recovery plan for the Lekwa Local Municipality by the MEC for Finance in the Mpumalanga province in October 2019, no significant improvement has been noted in the municipality.
Astral Operations Limited has now revived the application on the principle basis that the financial recovery plan was not implemented and ultimately the provincial intervention has failed. Astral now insisted on a national intervention,” said Mboweni.
He said the financial recovery plan must be prepared by the MEC of Finance in Mpumalanga within three months.
“The court order issued on 12 April 2021 allows for a period of 6 months from the date of the order, however, the financial recovery plan will be prepared in terms of the time-frames in the MFMA,” said Mboweni.