A critical assessment of the Eastern Cape provincial government intervention in dysfunctional municipalities: “A case study of Sunday’s river valley local municipality”.

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University of Fort Hare


The research seeks to assess the effectiveness of the provincial intervention in accordance with section 139 of the Constitution, 1996 in dysfunctional municipalities in the Eastern Cape as a viable instrument vis-à-vis the implementation of the continuous support in terms of section 154 of the same Constitution. Both sections are legislative obligations on the part of the national and provincial spheres of government. The two sections are legal instruments of monitoring and support and their implementation in municipalities by the then Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs (now known as Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) in the Eastern Cape is the focus of the study. However, the two instruments are not achieving their objectives as more municipalities continue remaining dysfunctional despite provincial interventions. The government set out a broad vision of developmental local government. This is essentially a vision that calls on municipalities to find means of confronting the legacy of underdevelopment and poverty in their local areas. Whereas section 154 seeks to ensure support and strengthen capacity of municipalities, section 139 presupposes intervention in areas where a municipality has failed to perform. The latter section is usually invoked when everything else has failed by way of the continuous support provided by section 154. The study examined critical aspects on the implementation of the two instruments by DLGTA, particularly at Sundays River Valley Local Municipality. It looked at the challenges that necessitate the provincial government to intervene in dysfunctional municipalities as well as at implementation challenges. It also looked at the impact of the provincial intervention and checked on the section that is likely to make an impact between the two. In so doing, the municipal functionaries; Mayor/Speaker, Section 56 Managers, departmental officials of DLGTA and stakeholders representing citizens of Sundays River Valley were interviewed. The results of the study reflect challenges in the implementation of the two instruments by the DLGTA and it would be advisable for the DLGTA to consider the findings and recommendations in an attempt to contribute in overcoming the section 139 challenges.