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Oudtshoorn. 19 October 2012. 06h00. On October 8 Swellendam councillors Swart, Libazi, Pietersen, and Matthysen called a council meeting and appointed deputy director: corporate services, Mervin Steenkamp Municipal Manager after the s139 intevention by Anton Bredell, to extend the term of the acting MM, Nico Nel, was disapproved by the national CoGTA minister, Richard Baloyi.
Baloyi and Bredell met next day to discuss the impasse.
On Wednesday, lawyers acting for the mayor and the speaker wrote Steenkamp:
1. We are instructed by Cllrs. Myburgh and Koch, who as you will be aware are the Executive Mayor and Speaker of the Council of the Swellendam Municipality respectively.
2. We are further instructed that you addressed letters to our clients on 16 October 2012, purportedly in your capacity as the Acting Municipal Manager, instructing them to vacate their offices by no later than 17h00 on 17 October 2012.
3. It appears that your actions are taken pursuant to purported decisions taken by a group of councillors on 8 October 2012; and after the adjournment of a meeting on 15 October 2012.
4. These decisions were all unlawful and null and void for the following reasons:
4.1. No notice of the meeting of 8 October 2012 was ever sent by the Speaker. It appears that a group of councillors representing the ANC, and a single councillor representing the ACDP, merely arrived at the Council chamber on that date. With your assistance they purported to hold a ‘meeting’ of the Council. The remaining 4 DA councillors were never advised of this meeting, and no agenda or list of motions was distributed. The DA councillors were thus not aware of the meeting, and not present.
4.2. On 12 October 2012 you purported to call a further meeting of the Council for Monday, 15 October 2012, supposedly in your capacity as Acting Municipal Manager I accounting officer of the Council. You had no power to call this meeting, whether as Acting Municipal Manager or otherwise. Only the Speaker has the power to call such meetings.
4.3. In any event, the provincial Minister for Local Government (Minister Bredell) had specifically instructed that the Council should not act until he and the national Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had collectively decided on the way forward for the appointment of a new Municipal Manager.
4.4. In the interim Mr. Matthysen, who formerly served as an ACDP councillor, was expelled by his party. He accordingly lost his seat as a councillor. The Independent Electoral Commission was advised accordingly.
4.5. On 15 October 2012 the Speaker adjourned the meeting to, inter alia, investigate the situation regarding Mr. Matthysen, who was present at the meeting. The DA councillors accordingly left the Council chamber.
4.6. We understand that you however continued in an informal manner with the meeting, and you now attempt to rely on the ‘decisions’ taken there. These include the so-called motions of no confidence in the Mayor and Speaker.
5. We repeat that these.’decisions’ are unlawful and invalid, and inform you that:
5.1. Cllrs. Myburgh and Koch remain the Mayor and Speaker respectively, and will continue to serve in those capacities;
5.2. Neither of these councillors will vacate their elected offices or office accommodation;
5.3. Any attempt by you to prevent them from entering their offices or continue in their elected roles will be met with an immediate High Court application, in which costs will be sought against you de bonispropriis on an attorney and client scale; and
5.4. The Mayor is scheduled to hold a Mayco meeting on 18 October 2012. He will decide whether this meeting continues.
6. We further inform you that any tenders accepted by you, any contracts of employment which you may purport to enter on behalf of the Municipality, are likewise invalid and null and void. These will not be honoured or recognised by the Council of the Mayor.
7. We call upon you to acknowledge that all purported ‘decisions’ taken on 8 and 15 October 2012 were invalid and null and void, and that your instructions pursuant to those ‘decision’ are similarly invalid and null and void. Unless your acknowledgement is received before 17h00 on Wednesday, 17 October 2012, our clients shall approach the High Court for suitable relief, with costs.
Die uitvoerende burgemeester van Swellendam, Nicholas Myburgh, het ‘n omvattende verklaring aan O!O uitgereik:
Geen geldige verandering aan die Uitvoerende Gesag van die Raad van Swellendam het plaasgevind nie.
Vier ANC raadslede en J Matthysen (voorheen ACDP) het op n onwettige wyse gepoog om die samestelling van die Raad op 15 Oktober te verander deur Matthysen as Burgemeester, J Nortje(ANC) as Speaker, en A Swart(ANC) as Onder-Burgemeester aan te wys. Hierdie optrede is algeheel onreelmatig en van nul en gener waarde. Matthysen se lidmaatskap van die ACDP is op 14 Oktober finaal opgehef en hy is dus ingevolge wetgewing nie meer n raadslid nie. Na verwagting sal n nuwe ACDP raadslid eersdaags aangewys word.
Dieselfde vier persone het ook op 8 Oktober vir Mnr M Steenkamp, n amptenaar in die munisipaliteit, op onwettige wyse aangewys a Waarnemende Munisipale Bestuurder(WMB). Steenkamp poseer tans op bedrieglike wyse as WMB van Swellendam. Die openlike bedrogspul waarmee bogenoemde persone hulself tans besig hou word deur my en my DA kollegas by wyse van toepaslike regsoptrede aangespreek. Lede van die publiek en amptenare van die munisipaliteit word daarop gewys dat Steenkamp nie by magte is om enige opdragte uit te reik of enige dokumente nms die munisipaliteit te teken as WMB nie.
Dit spyt my dat die berekende wettelose optrede van bogenoemde persone tans die munisipaliteit in n uiters moeilike situasie plaas met potensieel verrykende finansiele implikasies vir die belastingbetaler. Hul optrede verteenwoordig n nuwe laagtepunt in die geskiedenis van ons munisipaliteit. Ek en die DA sal alle middele tot ons beskikking aanwend om hierdie bedrogspul ongedaan te maak en om beskaafde waardes en norme te laat seevier. Ons sal nie toelaat dat die juigkommando van Julius Malema en Robert Mugabe die mense van die Groter Swellendam verder op hierdie wyse minag nie. Hul optrede is n belediging vir die bree publiek en n verwerping van die demokratiese waardes van die nuwe Suid-Afrika.
Ek doen ‘n beroep op die publiek en amptenary om my die geleentheid te bied om reg en geregtigheid te herstel sodat ons onverdeelde aandag geskenk kan word aan noodsaaklike en verbeterde dienslewering aan die publiek.”
Swellendam is indeed a political quagmire. Yet it is rather remarkable what some intelligence and energy can accomplish.
Both Myburgh and Matthys Koch have balls.
And balls is the one thing, although coming in pairs, that most politicians lack.
Using processes as hidey-holes; and spending research time conjuring reasons not to act; and generally just being lethargic characterise the average politician. And most of them are below average in any event – the only statistical where most all in the population are below average!
Great work, Nicholas and Matthys!
Even under circumstances where Bredell intervened – that usually is a recipe for failure!