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Emakhazeni and Steve Tshwete local municipalities to merge?

THG has received reports from numerous sources that the Emakhazeni Local Municipality (ELM) and the neighbouring Steve Tshwete Local Municipality (STLM) may merge to form one large municipal area. This, it is believed, follows the receipt by ELM of a letter proposing this from Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Pravin Gordhan.

The reasons and the motivation for the proposal letter are not known at present and municipal authorities are, at this early stage, tight-lipped as far as details are concerned. Even the existence of such a letter is regarded as confidential at this point. As much as can currently be extracted on the subject from an ELM spokesperson is that the letter does “indeed exist”, it does refer to “proposed merge of the two municipalities” and that the matter is “still to be finalised”.

Taking into account the current shaky situation of ELM (and its precarious finances) after almost a year of violent strikes by municipal workers, the idea is regarded by some as “not an exactly terrible idea” – based on the premise of “What have we got to lose? Could things get much worse than they already are?” Some of the reactions gathered by THG are:

  • “I think it’s a terrible idea. Just because Steve Tshwete municipality has better financial resources than we do in ELM, that does not mean that the towns in ELM are necessarily going to benefit from that.” – Delon Duvenage – Organiser, AfriForum, Machadodorp.
  • “It could be a very good thing for us. There is no money in ELM at the moment and we need the financial assistance.” – Amanda Botha, DA Councillor, Waterval Boven.
  • “Residents and business owners here in Dullstroom are quite evenly divided. Some think it’s a good idea, some think it’s terrible. We will have to wait and see when more information becomes available and we can make an informed decision. Something has to happen to fix ELM – one way or the other.” – Peter St. Clair – Chairman, Dullstroom Ratepayers Association (DRA) & Emakhazeni Good Governance Forum (EGGF).
It remains to be seen whether or not this proposal will ever see the light of day and become a reality, but most people quizzed on the subject had reservations about the size of the proposed single municipality and the ability of the municipal bosses to adequately serve the needs of all the residents in all the towns in the giant area. THG will be sure to keep readers up to date as events unfold in this regard.

 

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