The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs held public hearings yesterday on the proposed Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority (IMDA) Bill in the ZF Mgcawu District Municipality in the Northern Cape. Residents from the district and surrounding areas flocked to the Piet Thole Community Hall in Upington to voice their opinions on the draft legislation.
The committee’s primary objective is to engage citizens across the country through a comprehensive public consultation program. This program aims to gather valuable input on the proposed legislation, which seeks to replace and update the existing Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act. The bill also intends to align the legislation with current Demarcation Board practices while renaming it the Independent Municipal Demarcation Authority.
Addressing concerns raised by some citizens, the committee Chairperson, Mr Fikile Xasa, reassured attendees that the bill is not aimed at reintroducing apartheid-style demarcation or stripping the public of decision-making powers. Instead, the legislation aims to consolidate demarcation-related matters under a single framework. Mr Xasa emphasized that the bill is a response to public frustrations surrounding municipal demarcation, which have sparked protests and court cases in certain instances.
While there were dissenting voices in opposition to the bill, it was widely acknowledged that the Northern Cape region specifically experiences discrepancies in demarcation and rezoning. These issues were highlighted as areas requiring the attention of the Municipal Demarcation Board.
Supporters of the bill emphasized the importance of community involvement in the demarcation and delimitation processes. They argued that the views and needs of local communities should guide these decisions. Furthermore, participants expressed a strong sentiment that demarcation should be accompanied by improved service delivery and should not be driven by political expediency. Mr Xasa welcomed this input, stressing the importance of associating demarcation with enhanced service delivery, as the government’s primary goal is to ensure better service provision to the people.
The public hearings will continue today in the Pixley ka Seme District Municipality, with the event taking place at the De Aar Town Hall at 10:00.
The Parliamentary Communication Services issued this statement on behalf of Mr Fikile Xasa, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The ongoing nationwide public consultation program signifies the government’s commitment to inclusivity and transparency in the decision-making processes regarding municipal demarcation. The hearings provide a crucial platform for citizens to express their concerns, propose suggestions, and actively contribute to shaping the future of local governance and service delivery.
As the IMDA Bill progresses through the public consultation phase, stakeholders and interested parties are encouraged to participate in these hearings, ensuring that their voices are heard and their perspectives are considered. The legislation’s successful implementation will have far-reaching implications for the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal boundaries and wards, ultimately striving for improved service delivery and the betterment of local communities.
The IMDA Bill represents an opportunity for citizens to actively engage with the demarcation process, ensuring their needs and aspirations are considered in the decision-making procedures that shape the local government landscape. The results of these public hearings will inform the development and refinement of the legislation, helping to address past frustrations and create a framework that promotes effective and equitable local governance across South Africa.