Pappas says thousands responded to proposal to merge uMngeni Municipality with other towns

uMngeni Local Municipality mayor Chris Pappas. File Picture: Supplied

uMngeni Local Municipality mayor Chris Pappas. File Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 7, 2023


Durban - Residents of uMngeni Local Municipality have filed thousands of written submissions with the demarcation board on its proposal to amalgamate uMngeni with two other municipalities.

Mayor Chris Pappas said there had been about 29 000 written submissions made to the board to date, and about 17 000 of these came from uMngeni residents.

Pappas revealed this during a business engagement meeting in Pietermaritzburg yesterday where he gave a detailed assessment of what he found when the DA took over the council in 2021 and the plans for its future.

The Midlands council was won by the DA in the 2021 local government elections, and has been seen by some as a model of good governance and service delivery under Pappas.

Among the proposals before the demarcation board is to have uMngeni, which has Howick as its town, amalgamated with Mpofana (Mooi River) and Impendle municipalities.

The proposal has been seen in political circles as an attempt by the ANC to wrest back control of the council. The party has enthusiastically supported the proposal.

During a question-and-answer session, one of the participants had questioned Pappas on his view on the amalgamation, having expressed fears that submissions would not be “considered” by the board.

Pappas said the response by the uMngeni residents to the matter had been overwhelming.

“Of the 29 000 submissions that were made in this province, 17 000 of those were coming from uMngeni municipality.”

He later told The Mercury that he believed that most of these submissions were objections.

The mayor told the attendees at the event, which was organised by an investment and financial services company, that the DA would not accept and would challenge any decision that was unreasonable or would place undue financial burden on the municipality’s ratepayers.

He urged the residents to actively take part in this process, adding that the public engagement meeting that will be held to discuss the issue is a critical platform for residents to raise their concerns.

“They have tried this before. They wanted to combine uMngeni with Mpofana. One politician from Mpofana was licking his fingers saying they were finally going to get their hands on uMngeni money because that is all they cared about.

“But when there was a public meeting in (Howick hall), the hall was packed,” he said.

Looking back at when the DA took over the municipality, he said it was besieged by crises and basic controls were not in place.

For instance, the DA found that performance assessments were not done for senior managers.

He also spoke on transformation and said it was necessary and has to be done, pointing out that the country’s wealth cannot just be concentrated in a minority of the population that looked the same or tolerated policies (like BEE in the current implementation) that benefited the same people over and over.

“Transformation has to happen,” he said, adding that failure to address this leaves many people in the cold and puts the country on a dangerous path “that would mean we have a country that is ripe for a revolution”.