The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has successfully concluded the Eastern Cape leg of its public hearings on the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority (IMDA) Bill. Held at New Brighton’s Nangoza Jebe Hall in the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality, the hearings provided a platform for residents to voice their opinions and concerns regarding the proposed legislation.
The IMDA Bill, which seeks to repeal and replace the current Municipal Demarcation Act of 1998, garnered overwhelming support from the residents of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality. They expressed their appreciation for the establishment of the Independent Demarcations Appeal’s Authority, emphasizing its complete independence, impartiality, and ability to perform its functions without bias.
Residents were particularly pleased with the provision that the Board may only determine or redetermine a municipal boundary every ten years, as opposed to the previous five-year period. This change is seen as a means to restore stability in their municipalities, which have suffered significant damage due to frequent boundary adjustments. The residents expressed hope and optimism that the Bill will facilitate meaningful engagement between the Board and communities, enabling them to participate in decisions regarding the demarcation of boundaries.
While the majority of residents supported the Bill, some expressed frustration over the negative impact of demarcation on service delivery. They highlighted the damage caused by frequent boundary adjustments and called for greater attention to be given to improving service delivery in the affected areas.
Before reaching the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality, the Portfolio Committee conducted public hearings on the Bill in the OR Tambo and Amathole District Municipalities. This comprehensive approach ensured that residents from different regions had the opportunity to provide their input and perspectives on the proposed legislation.
The IMDA Bill aims to align and update the legislation with current Demarcation Board practices. It proposes the migration of the current Municipal Demarcation Board’s functions from the Municipal Structure Act of 1998 to the new Bill. Additionally, it seeks to establish the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority and define its functions and powers. The Bill also includes provisions for the criteria and procedures involved in the determination and redetermination of municipal boundaries.
The residents of the Eastern Cape have played an integral role in shaping the future of municipal demarcation in the province through their active participation in the public hearings. The overwhelming support for the IMDA Bill demonstrates the community’s desire for stability and the opportunity to engage directly with an independent authority.
The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will carefully consider the feedback received during the public hearings as it moves forward with the legislative process. The voices of the Eastern Cape residents will undoubtedly contribute to the shaping of a more effective and community-oriented municipal demarcation framework.
As the IMDA Bill progresses, it is expected to have a profound impact on the demarcation processes in the Eastern Cape and potentially serve as a model for other provinces to follow. By establishing a transparent and independent authority, the Bill aims to restore public confidence, promote efficient service delivery, and ensure that community voices are heard in decisions that affect their municipalities.