ANC’s plan to form a metro by merging five municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal that fall under the uMgungundlovu district has failed.
The plan was to incorporate the DA-led uMngeni municipality with the ANC-led Impendle, Msunduzi, uMshwathi and the cash-strapped Mooi-Mpofana municipalities.
The governing ANC region of Moses Mabhida, which is mainly made up of smaller towns and Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal, had strongly pushed for the Howick-based uMngeni to be merged with the municipalities in order to create a metro, arguing this would improve service delivery in rural municipalities.
However, critics had viewed the proposal as ANC’s plan to take control of uMngeni municipality which is led by mayor Christopher Pappas through the backdoor.
Criteria not met
However, the municipal demarcation board rejected the proposal, saying it does not meet a minimum requirement of setting up a metro.
In its submissions made to the board, the party called for the redetermination of the boundaries of the municipalities under the uMgungundlovu district, which would have resulted in the creation of a category B local municipality in the district.
“There is no political reason behind the proposal besides the fact that under the current setting, the municipalities are not financially viable,” explained ANC Moses Mabhida region secretary Samora Ndlovu.
“Merging them will ensure more financial base for the efficient delivery of services.”
However, the board concluded that the proposal did not meet the threshold required for a category A or B municipality as provided for by the Municipal Structures Act.
The DA together with residents and ratepayers associations who had launched a vociferous fight against the ANC’s proposal described the outcome as a victory.
“Since the DA took over uMngeni local municipality from the ANC, there has been many drastic improvements as a result of honest, transparent and accountable governance,” said the party’s uMngeni constituency head Greg Krumbock.
Municipal debt cleared
“These include the clearing of multimillion-rand historical debt, increased basket of services along with support to indigent households and tackling electricity issues.
“These include supporting and assisting youth-owned business and tourism and making uMngeni one of the fastest-developing municipalities in the country.”
The move was described by the ANC’s detractors as a well-orchestrated plan by the ANC to launch a hostile political takeover of uMngeni through a backdoor process.
The DA snatched the council from the ANC during the 2021 municipal elections and went on to receive accolades for turning its fortunes around.