Sakeliga makes urgent demands of president and premier regarding Lichtenburg crisis

Sakeliga demands urgent proper intervention by the Premier of North West regarding the municipal crisis in Lichtenburg, alternatively by the President of South Africa.

The urgent letter of demand by Sakeliga’s attorneys on Friday follows after the provincial government once again improperly intervened and caused an acute crisis in the Ditsobotla Municipality. The provincial government moreover committed the improper intervention without consulting Sakeliga and after failing for 18 months to meaningfully engage Sakeliga, notwithstanding Sakeliga’s ongoing litigation on the situation in the Ditsobotla Municipality.

Virtually all municipal administration and service delivery came to a standstill this week, after the provincial government again incorrectly decided to apply discretionary intervention under section 139(1) of the Constitution. While this intervention does transfer responsibility for municipal governance to the provincial government, the provincial government however failed to take critical measures like the appointment of an administrator to take over local administration. The decision is also incorrect, because section 139(5) of the Constitution prescribes a different, more intense and mandatory intervention. Basically, the provincial government now removed the last vestiges of functionality without putting anything in its place.

Given the failure by the provincial government, Sakeliga’s letter of demand is addressed to both the President and the Premier. The Constitution stipulates in section 139(7) that national government must intervene where a provincial government fails to fulfil its obligations with regard to local government.

In the letter, Sakeliga requests a meeting with representatives of government on 27 September 2022, at 09:00. In the meantime, Sakeliga demands that:

  1. The provincial government without delay institute not discretionary, but mandatory intervention under section 139(5), as required by the Constitution in cases where municipalities implode financially and operationally;
  2. Failing provincial intervention under section 139(5), national government institute a section 139(7) intervention, as required by the Constitution in cases where provincial governments fail to fulfil their obligations;
  3. An administrator be appointed by no later than 27 September 2022;
  4. The provincial government by no later than 27 September transfer a sufficient portion of the equitable share tax money due to Ditsobotla, for payment of salaries;
  5. The administrator by no later than 28 September 2022 be authorised to pay salaries and take control of service delivery functions; and
  6. The administrator receive instruction to meet with Sakeliga and residents of Ditsobotla to discuss problems and solutions.

Sakeliga has given government until Monday, 26 September 2022 at 10:00 to respond to the letter. Sakeliga also informed its recipients that Sakeliga retains all its rights, including the option to approach the High Court for constitutional, declaratory or mandatory relief on an urgent basis. Click here for the full letter.

Meanwhile, Sakeliga’s court case to appoint a special master in Ditsobotla and Naledi (Vryburg) continues. In that case, Sakeliga is asking the court for a structured interdict to restore proper municipal governance under supervision of the court. As part of this, Sakeliga requests that the court instruct independent auditors to act as so-called special master for undertaking critical financial administration until such time as proper intervention takes place. The case keeps progressing, notwithstanding the continuous delay tactics by several levels of government. The case has now been put under management of a judge and a meeting has been scheduled for 17 November 2022. Sakeliga’s lawyers’ latest letter adds further momentum to our ongoing litigation. For more on this case, click here.