Move to intervene in crisis-ridden Knysna

Knysna Municipality

Knysna Municipality

Published Apr 18, 2024


Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell is considering making a recommendation to Premier Alan Winde and the Western Cape Cabinet to intervene in the Knysna Municipality in terms of Section 139(1)(a) of the Constitution in relation to the town’s wastewater and solid waste situation.

This section is invoked when a municipality does not fulfil its executive obligation.

It empowers the provincial executive to intervene if a municipality cannot or does not fulfil an obligation in terms of the Constitution or legislation to approve a budget or any revenue-raising measures necessary to give effect to the budget.

Also, when a municipality, as a result of a crisis in its financial affairs, is in serious or persistent material breach of its obligations to provide basic services or to meet its financial commitments or admits that it is unable to meet its obligations or financial commitments.

Bredell said he had written to the municipality in this regard – considering the “evidence” before him, there were reasonable grounds to believe that the municipality was not fulfilling certain executive obligations in terms of the Constitution or other legislation and had not “taken reasonable measures to address these challenges”, he said.

“Not only is the municipality not compliant with its obligations in terms of the Constitution, it is also transgressing in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema).

“The current state of pollution within the Bigai River and the Knysna Estuary, as well as the inadequate sewerage infrastructure and lack of maintenance, is not only causing significant pollution of the environment but may also impact negatively on the health and well-being of the public and the residents residing along Bigai River and the affected areas within the Knysna Estuary,” he said.

According to Bredell, the letter is intended to afford the municipality an opportunity to consider his assessment of the current situation in Knysna.

Approached for comment, spokesperson for the Knysna municipality, Christopher Bezuidenhoudt, said the matter needed to be brought before the full council, before they could provide further comment.

At this stage the comments expressed by the municipal manager previously (Sunday) were still valid, he said.

Municipal manager Op Sebola had said: “At no point did the municipality decline to implement any of the directives issued. We continue to work hard and make progress in addressing the issues identified in the plan.”

“We also provide the Department of Local Government with regular updates, as stipulated in the directives.

“It must be noted that the support plan is still in the beginning stages, and working groups are developing the best support strategies and approaches. The final commitments will also be provided for in the next budget cycle.”

Meanwhile, ActionSA’s Julie Seton said they welcomed Bredell’s move.

“A precursor to placing the crisis-ridden municipality under administration, this long-awaited intervention comes at a point when service delivery has all but collapsed.

“ActionSA will continue to monitor every development arising from Knysna to ensure that residents' needs are placed first and that service delivery can be restored to a functional state,” Seton said.

Cape Times

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