30 January 2013

South Africa: Demarcation Board to Further Engage Zamdela Residents

Pretoria — The Municipal Demarcation Board has vowed to further engage with the Metsimaholo Concerned Residents on the proposed merger of their municipality with Ngwathe municipality Parys.

Residents of Zamdela outside Sasolburg in the Free State protested two weeks ago over a proposed merger of Metsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality near Parys.

On Wednesday, the Demarcation Board met with the representatives of Metsimaholo Concerned Residents in Pretoria to listen to the resident's grievances.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, the Demarcation Board's Chairperson Landiwe Mahlangu said the meeting had been constructive and positive.

"The community representatives shared ... information and insights into the issues that precipitated community protests in the area. We've noted those issues and agreed indeed that the issues are valid and they need to be taken into account," he said.

Mahlangu said the Demarcation Board would undertake further processes which may involve investigations and public hearings to afford the community an opportunity to make their inputs on the proposed merger.

He said it would only make a final pronouncement once these processes had been completed.

Chairperson of Metsimaholo Concerned Residents, Lucky Malebo said residents were angry because they had not been consulted on the matter.

"We never anticipated that the situation will [get] out of control, but people were angry because they did not know who made the proposal for the merger."

The Municipal Demarcation Board is an independent body tasked with determining municipal boundaries across the country.

Every five-year municipal electoral period, the board needs to undertake a review of the geographical location of municipalities and make recommendations if changes were needed that would allow for improvement in service delivery.

A week ago, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi halted the proposed merger and announced that a task team would lead facilitations and investigate whether all changes to municipal boundaries will lead to a better state of municipalities to deliver services.

It is expected to complete its work by the end of February.

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