AfriForum and eMadlangeni Municipality to battle it out in court

AfriForum has taken eMadlangeni Municipality to court for refusing to provide proof of officials' qualifications.

As part of a campaign launched in 2013, AfriForum will face eMadlangeni Municipality in the Gauteng North High Court later this month.

The municipality has opposed an application by AfriForum for a High Court order to force officials to provide reasons for refusing a request from the human rights organisation for access to documents indicating compliance with the Municipal Regulations on Minimum Competency Standards.

“Out of 278 chief financial officers (CFOs) in all municipalities, 170 of them are not qualified,” said Chris Fourie, Community Coordinator for AfriForum in KwaZulu-Natal in a statement. “It is not right that the R320-billion budget of municipalities is [being] handled by people with no qualifications. They must all be given the boot.”

The hearing forms part of a process initiated by a campaign AfriForum launched called Away with Unqualified Municipal Officials. The campaign called on all municipalities located in AfriForum branch areas to immediately remove officials in their employ who do not meet the minimum competency criteria.

Reportedly, AfriForum first requested documents indicating compliance with municipal regulations in October 2013.

“Out of 278 municipalities, 80 to 90 are dysfunctional,” said Mr Fourie. “Our towns and cities are in serious trouble. AfriForum believes the main causes for dysfunctional municipalities are unqualified officials and corruption.”

The hearing is set down for January 26, where AfriForum hopes to receive a court order that will mandate the municipality to provide the requested documents.

“If there are officials who are not qualified for the positions they hold, AfriForum will request the MEC to remove them,” concluded the statement.

AfriForum has made headlines in recent months as it tackled numerous municipalities across KZN as the campaign to eradicate unqualified officials intensified.

An email sent to the Director of Corporate Services for the municipality, who acts as a spokesperson for the municipal manager, requesting comment on the hearing was not responded to at the time of going to print.

Mayor of eMadlangeni, Johannes Zikhali, declined to comment at this stage, saying he did not want to ‘jeopardise court proceedings.’

Kyle Cowan

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