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Legislation meant to save failing municipalities seen as useless, says report

Section 139 gives provincial executive committees or national government the power to take appropriate steps including the imposition of a recovery plan and possible dissolution of municipal councils.

Picture: @PARInstitute/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – The Public Affairs Research Institute’s (PARI) newly published study on section 139 interventions in troubled municipalities says there is a growing sentiment that the legislation is useless.

Section 139 of the Constitution empowers provincial executive committees to intervene in financially and operationally distressed municipalities by implementing a series of measures including dissolving councils.

With more municipalities on the brink of collapse or completely dysfunctional – the study by the public affairs research institute finds there is little interest from authorities to make use of the piece of legislation.

Section 139 gives provincial executive committees or national government the power to take appropriate steps including the imposition of a recovery plan and possible dissolution of municipal councils.

The report states that this law is perceived by public officials to only be relied on when those responsible for its implementation act on it - or appear to be acting when forced to admit defeat on all other fronts.

The research institute’s Dr Tracy Ledger said, “It makes quite clear that there is a constitutional obligation, not an ‘oh well maybe if I feel like it’, but an absolute compulsory obligation on provincial and national government to intervene in a municipality before it turns into an absolute basket case.”

The study further notes that the reality is that the main reason for the dismal outcome of section 139 interventions is that the legislation has never been implemented as it was intended.

It states that many of its provisions are either routinely ignored or incorrectly applied.

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