Official seal of Lekwa
Location in Mpumalanga
Location in Mpumalanga
CountrySouth Africa
DistrictGert Sibande
 • TypeMunicipal council
 • Total4,585 km2 (1,770 sq mi)
 • Total115,662
 • Density25/km2 (65/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)
 • Black African84.2%
 • Coloured2.9%
 • Indian/Asian1.2%
 • White11.4%
First languages (2011)
 • Zulu66.2%
 • Afrikaans13.2%
 • Sotho10.3%
 • English3.6%
 • Other6.7%
Time zoneUTC+2 (SAST)
Municipal codeMP305

Lekwa Municipality (Zulu: UMasipala wase Lekwa; Afrikaans: Lekwa Munisipaliteit; Sotho: Masepala wa Lekwa) is a local municipality situated in the southwest of the Gert Sibande District Municipality, in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Standerton, an urban node, is the seat of the municipality. It was inaugurated on 5 December 2000 after the amalgamation of the Standerton, Sakhile and Morgenzon councils.[2] Agriculture, forestry and fishing constitute about 30% of its economy. It is situated on open grassland plains of the Highveld region, which is traversed by the west-flowing Vaal River, for which it is named. Lekwa is the Sesotho name for the Vaal River.[2] Lekwa's first two decades were marked by increasing maladministration, which culminated in a collapse in governance and service delivery by 2020.[3] This had negative consequences for its residents and businesses, the environment, and utilities which were not paid for their services.[4]

Main places

The 2001 census divided the municipality into the following main places:[5]

Place Code Area (km2) Population Most spoken language
Morgenzon 80502 4.99 2,324 Zulu
Sakhile 80503 6.15 39,773 Zulu
Sivukile 80504 0.40 1,743 Zulu
Standerton 80505 36.52 23,291 Afrikaans
Thuthukani 80506 0.95 2,507 Zulu
Tutuka 80507 0.48 315 Zulu
Remainder of the municipality 80501 4,536.73 33,321 Zulu


Main article: Lekwa Local Municipality elections

The municipal council consists of thirty members elected by mixed-member proportional representation. Fifteen councillors are elected by first-past-the-post voting in fifteen wards, while the remaining fifteen are chosen from party lists so that the total number of party representatives is proportional to the number of votes received. In the election of 1 November 2021 the African National Congress (ANC) lost its majority, winning thirteen seats on the council.

The following table shows the results of the election.[6]

African National Congress9,73942.47129,56841.59113
Lekwa Community Forum4,25118.5404,67420.3266
Democratic Alliance3,06913.3813,06813.3434
Economic Freedom Fighters2,1489.3702,0698.9933
Freedom Front Plus2,0639.0022,0949.1013
African Transformation Movement4321.8804301.8711
Independent candidates1610.7000
6 other parties1,0664.6501,1044.8000
Valid votes22,92998.0423,00798.04
Invalid/blank votes4581.964601.96
Total votes23,387100.0023,467100.00
Registered voters/turnout51,11645.7551,11645.91

Following the election, in which the African National Congress lost its majority for the first time, resulting in one of three hung councils in Mpumalanga, candidates from the Lekwa Community Forum were elected to the mayorship and speaker positions, while the Economic Freedom Fighters won the chief whip position.[7]

Corruption and mismanagement

In 2008 Lekwa's municipal manager, Calvin Ngobeni, was accused of maladministration and was suspended with all members of his short-listing panel. They were charged with misconduct for appointing candidates who did not meet minimum criteria. Two top-ranking officials who were not suitably qualified were also suspended.[8]

In 2017 it became clear that the municipality was one of several drowning in debt due to corruption and lack of skills.[9] Allegations of maladministration and corruption in 2018 cited poor financial discipline, the large deficit, over-indebtedness with SARS and Eskom, besides unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and/or wasteful expenditure which were written off as irrecoverable. A VAT review was recommended, and various instances of non-compliance with the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) were noted.[10] As a result a forensic investigation was launched by the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG). In anticipation of the outcome of the Section 106 probe, opposition parties hinted at the precautionary suspension of municipal manager Ms Gugulethu Mhlongo-Ntshangase.[10] Mhlongo-Ntshangase left eMadlangeni Local Municipality (Utrecht) in 2017 amid corruption allegations.[4]

During 2019 the municipality's main water treatment plant in Standerton was in disrepair and was causing pollution of the upper Vaal River.[11] The municipality was unable to explain why large amounts of money spent on the problem had not yet brought a solution. The stench of sewage was also affecting residents of Meyerville in Standerton, besides Sakhile township[4] and Rooikoppen ext 8. R83 million was spent on the Rooikoppen sewage problem without any work being done.[3] To assist users downstream, clean water had to be pumped into the Vaal River to dilute its high salt levels, thereby wasting a large quantity of this scarce resource. Anthony Turton of the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, noted that a dysfunctional municipality is usually recognized by the fact that it cannot maintain its sewerage works.[11]

At the same time the town's basic infrastructure appeared visibly aged, with traffic lights being out of order, and potholes present on most streets.[11] It was also unable to provide other basic services in a sustainable manner.[10] It was taken to court by businesses around Standerton for failing to provide clean and sufficient water and electricity. These service interruptions were due to the municipality's soaring debt to Eskom (R1.1 billion by 2020[4]), and its non-payment for services provided by the Department of Water and Sanitation. Notwithstanding it spent large amounts on private security (guards getting R70,000 to R90,000 a month[4]), events (including meat and catering), cars, travelling, accommodation and restaurants during 2018 and 2019.[11]

In 2019 six licensing officials in Standerton were arrested for allegedly falsifying vehicle ownership registration on the national traffic information system (NaTIS) to enable truck owners to avoid payment of vehicle licensing fees, including penalties and arrears.[12]

Over a dozen homes burned down and three children died in a fire in January 2020 while the town had no access to a fire engine.[13] A month after the children's deaths Lekwa ordered two fire engines for R250,000 each, but the contractor which didn't specialize in fire equipment failed to deliver the first, while the second broke down on its way to Standerton.[14] The municipality took receipt of one new fire engine late October 2020.[15] Refuse started piling up on the streets since June 2020, as trucks and equipment were allegedly in disrepair. Potholes in roads caused accidents and deaths, and traffic lights had not been repaired for years. Some areas had been without water for months or years, while others received dirty water.[3] Residents and businesses had to forgo an electricity supply for six hours a day, despite 90% of residents using prepaid meters. Businesses had to spend thousands of rands daily to run electricity generators. Its service billing system had become unreliable in terms of pricing and invoicing, and in August 2020 the municipal workers started a strike which exacerbated matters.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Statistics by place". Statistics South Africa. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Lekwa Local Municipality (MP305)". Municipalities of South Africa. 2012-2020 Yes Media. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Zacarias, Sifiso; Thabethe, Delani. "Service delivery: Workers down tools against allegations of corruption in Lekwa Municipality". MorningLive, SABC News. youtube.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "When a Community has had Enough". youtube.com. Carte Blanche, M-Net. Archived from the original on 2021-05-10. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  5. ^ Lookup Tables - Statistics South Africa
  6. ^ "Election Result Table for LGE2021 — Lekwa". wikitable.frith.dev. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  7. ^ Yende, Sizwe Sama. "ANC loses control of Mpumalanga's Lekwa municipality to community forum". Citypress. Retrieved 2022-10-20.
  8. ^ Moselakgomo, Alfred (28 November 2008). "Council axes three". sowetanlive.co.za. SowetanLive. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  9. ^ Lake, Alida (19 September 2017). "Mpumalanga municipalities drown in debt due to corruption and lack of skills". ridgetimes.co.za. Ridge Times Hoëvelder / Highvelder. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Schoombee, Marina (2 October 2020). "Forensic report underscores Lekwa's maladministration". ridgetimes.co.za. Ridge Times, Standerton Advertiser. Retrieved 30 October 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d Saba, Athandiwe (11 November 2019). "Tens of millions spent on repairs but sewage still flows in the Vaal". Mail&Guardian. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  12. ^ Schoombee, Marina (8 September 2019). "Provincial department disciplines traffic officials in Lekwa". ridgetimes.co.za. Ridge Times Hoëvelder / Highvelder. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  13. ^ Saba, Athandiwe (16 January 2020). "No firetruck to save three siblings". mg.co.za. Mail&Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  14. ^ Editorial (17 January 2020). "Corrupt, negligent municipalities kill". Mail&Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  15. ^ Schoombee, Marina (October 2020). "Lekwa Municipality envisages new fire truck to cover most areas". ridgetimes.co.za. Ridge Times Hoëvelder / Highvelder. Retrieved 6 November 2020.

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