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SAHRC welcomes the response by the Minister of Human Settlement to allegations of improper conduct levelled against the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality

Tursday, 14 July 2011

The SA Human Rights Commission welcomes the swift response by Minister of Human Settlements to allegations that the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality planned to sell vacant land with toilets to residents, instead of building them low-cost houses.

According to reports, the municipality constructed more than 1000 toilets on land which was apparently earmarked for low-cost housing and insisted that residents pay for these.

It is also alleged that the municipality did not consult with the community before it initiated and implemented this project. The Commission condemns the pattern of lack of consultation, engagement and non-provision of information by some municipalities, including the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality.  The Commission cautions municipalities that legislation and judgments of our courts actually require not only consultation but the active participation of communities.

The Commission reiterates its position in its finding against the Moqhaka Municipality that active communication and proactive information sharing lie at the heart of community engagement and participation. Community participation therefore must be initiated and sustained from the point of inception of project plans through to the implementation and evaluation of projects. A municipality must demonstrate that effective and interactive community participation has taken place in the planning, implementation and evaluation of a project.

In terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, a municipality must consult communities and present the budget available to undertake specific projects. The budget must be presented through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework process, where there is an agreement as to how many toilets and houses can be built over a period of time. The fact that land where the toilets are constructed apparently remained vacant for a lengthy period seems to suggest that the municipality may not have used the multi-year planning framework on service delivery.

The Commission hopes that in his meeting with the municipality yesterday, the Minister emphasized the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act, which place an obligation on the municipality to encourage and create conditions for the local community to participate in its affairs including preparing, implementing and reviewing its integrated development plan; establishing, implementing and reviewing its performance management system; monitoring and reviewing of its performance, including the outcomes and impact; preparing its budget; and strategic decisions relating to the provision of municipal services.

In addition, the Commission hopes that the Minister also raised concern about what appears to be the municipality’s disregard for the provisions of the Promotion of Access to Information Act. Access to information is a fundamental right entitling people to information that public bodies hold, and facilitating informed participation in decisions which affect their daily lives.

PAIA obliges public bodies such as the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality to make information available about its decisions relating to all aspects of its processes, including tenders and the means through which the community can access the information the municipality holds. In this sense, people are not only able to participate meaningfully in the projects of the municipality but they are also able to hold it accountable.

Information that currently exists on this matter seems to suggest that the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality did not comply with its obligations in terms of the PAIA legislation.

The Commission is urging municipalities to adequately consult and engage with their communities, in this way the quality of service delivery can improve. This will also ensure that service delivery protests are avoided.
Further enquiries: Vincent Moaga 073 562 9866

For comments email info@sahrc.org.za [Back]

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