Zamdela: Board goes ahead with process despite Baloyi’s intervention
The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) is going ahead with its review of the Metsimaholo/Ngwathe municipal boundaries despite Cooperative Goverance Minister Richard Baloyi’s promise to suspend the process.
MDB boss Gabusile Masilela said the public should allow the board to continue its work as there will be an opportunity to engage with the board before the final decision on the matter is taken.
Masilela also appealed for calm, saying the board would consider all the views and representations submitted and made by the public on Friday, before it embarks on the next phase of the “redetermination process”.
Baloyi reportedly promised to suspend the process of determining whether the two municipalities should merge after violence engulfed Zamdela township.
However, Baloyi’s chief of staff, Mpho Lekgoro, said the minister had merely called for the suspension of the process to restore calm in the area.
“I suppose the minister and the board will find each other. The minister was not saying he will determine the boundaries,” Lekgoro said.
The MDB, an independent statutory body responsible for determining ward and municipal boundaries, is currently considering the proposal to amalgamate the two Free State local municipalities into one entity. It is one of over 200 cases the board is considering before the municipal and ward boundaries could be finalised ahead of next year’s general elections.
Disgruntled residents of Zamdela township went on the rampage because of the proposed merger of their municipality with Ngwathe, which includes Parys, resulting in the looting of local businesses and the death of two residents.
They claim that Ngwathe is badly run, and a merger would lower their living standards.
The ANC has said Baloyi’s decision to “suspend” the merger of the two municipalities will help local stakeholders deal meaningfully with the issue.
ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said it was regrettable that a “well intentioned initiative calculated to improve performance of local government has collapsed on the grounds of allegations of non-consultation with the affected communities”.
“The ANC (national executive committee members) will work with the structures of the ANC on the ground to ensure that calm is restored,” Mthembu said.
Said Masilela: “The community unrest in Metsimaholo is unfortunate and the board fully regrets recent developments in the area.”
She said committees would be appointed to hear cases such as the Metsimaholo/Ngwathe merger “to give members of the public the opportunity to air their views on this matter”.
Masilela said the board received the proposal for the merger on December 15 2011, and the rationale for it included the need to promote economic growth and the need to resolve the impasse of the community of Heilbron which has been demanding that its town be incorporated into Metsimaholo.