Demarcation task team to finalise work by next month – Baloyi
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi has promised to finalise all grievances related to the new demarcation of municipal boundaries by the end of next month.
Baloyi emphasised that a final decision had not been taken on the merger of the Ngwathe and Metsimaholo municipalities in the Free State, which led to violent protests in Zamdela this week.
He said there was no reason for people to loot shops, burn infrastructure and not go to work and school because the final decision had not been taken.
“The way in which people have looked at the situation it is as if the decision to merge the two municipalities has already been taken,” said Baloyi, adding that this was not the case.
He said the task team set up to investigate concerns related to new demarcations would conclude its work by the end of February.
The task team will consider all changes to municipal boundaries and whether the public participation process has managed to give everyone a chance to voice their concerns.
His team will also consider “whether the system of determining new boundaries is not open to manipulation or hijacking where changes may only suit certain individuals who may be more vocal or advantaged by their positions and status and whether all changes to municipal boundaries will lead to a state of a municipality to deliver the services required by the people”.
The team, which was established last year, includes Mpumi Mpofu, Kgosi Maubane, Landiwe Mahlangu, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Mkhululi Ncube, Joe Maswanganyi, Roelf Meyer and China Dodovu.
The proposal to merge the two municipalities has plunged the Zamdela community in Sasolburg into crisis.
The protests, which started on Sunday, have been characterised by looting and violence. The reported death toll stands at four.
Baloyi said a large number of areas around the country would be affected by the proposed changes to the new municipal boundaries ahead of the 2016 local government elections.
He said government had learned its lesson from similar decisions to redetermine boundaries for the Merafong Municipality in Khutsong, Gauteng. Residents did not want the municipality to be incorporated into the North West, leading to similar violent protests.
The reasons for demarcating new boundaries for municipalities included economic considerations – where municipalities that are not financially viable could be merged with municipalities that are in a better position, to improve services.
“We are listening to the people as a caring government,” said Baloyi, adding that government would not take unilateral decisions without consulting residents.