Litigation: OR Tambo decision agreed on all sides

The decision by the provincial government to dissolve the OR Tambo district council and appoint an administrator to take over the running of the ailing municipality, has been set aside by the Eastern Cape High Court (Mthatha). The provincial Cabinet has also backed off from its initial decision to place the troubled council under administration. A Daily Dispatch report notes in August, Cogta MEC Xolile Nqatha dissolved the council and appointed Basil Mase with full executive powers until a new council could be put in place.

This was after Nqatha was given the green light by Parliament to invoke section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution, after he had told the legislators that the district municipality was on the brink of technical insolvency. However, the council took the matter to court for review, challenging Mase’s appointment which it described as unlawful. Judge Sunil Rugunanan ordered that the decision of 4 August by the provincial Cabinet to dissolve the OR Tambo council be set aside. Cogta spokesperson Mamnkeli Ngam said the provincial government ‘felt it was in the best interest of governance to withdraw the decision to dissolve the municipality and therefore the appointment of the administrator’. He said looking at the short period between now and local government elections, it was best to withdraw the intervention. But the provincial government, Ngam said, had established a service delivery work stream to resolve water and sanitation challenges in OR Tambo district municipality.

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