Residents of the eight Eastern Cape municipalities that have been placed under the “section 139" administration process will soon be familiar with what that means. They will discover that it is a fractitious, contested and long-winded business that complicates everything from buying a tea set to the award of critical projects linked to capital grants.

As a briefing note of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council suggested in October 2020, our intergovernmental relations system often functions in the form of “rescue missions” in terms of section 139 of the constitution, which while necessary “are often disruptive and entrench waves of contests and instability in local councils and administrations”...

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