A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

The DA’s failed coup was just an attempt to avoid paying up R4m owed to ratepayers

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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 29 June 2013. 02h02. The nature and timing of the failed May 31 take-over attempt of the Oudtshoorn Council, by the DA councillors assisted by the Cope Councillor and abetted by five rogue ANC Councillors provided a conundrum not comprehended at the time.

Within days of the failed attempt, however, indications of some machination became evident.

The 11 DA Councillors and the Cope Councillor, “the 12”, and the remnant of the original 17 putsch members, refused, as early as June 1, to abandon their illegal misadventure and forced the Speaker, John Stoffels, to approach the High Court at great and unnecessary expense in a legitimate effort to remedy the false position caused by nefarious action.

Counsel for the 12 failed to file answering affidavits until June 19, and only after the Court set the Speaker’s application down for August 13.

On June 18 a functionary of Cogta summoned all Oudtshoorn Councillors to Cape Town for a meeting with Minister Richard Baloyi and MEC Anton Bredell “to decide Oudtshoorn’s future”.

At this event the DA Councillors were conspicuously absent and it was learned from media reports that Bredell on the Tuesday of the summons advised the DA Councillors that their presence was not required.

Bredell intimated that no reasons presented themselves to demand or to justify intervention in Oudtshoorn’s administration.

This position was shared by Baloyi and the Councillors returned to Oudtshoorn.

On June 24 the Executive Mayor, Alderman Gordon April, wrote Bredell to confirm the verbal instructions of the Cape Town meeting.

Bredell has yet to respond to April, but MEC for Finance Alan Winde late Tuesday, June 25, advised his intension to intervene should a budget not be approved by today, June 28.

On June 27 functionaries of Bredell’s department met with April, acting Municipal Manager Ron Lottering, and Director Corporate Services and acting CFO Francois Human. The functionaries returned to base without imposing intervention procedures.

Counsel for the municipality Hardy Mills reacted by charging Winde on June 28 with dereliction of duty and breach of oath of office.

The matter continued to adumbrate that Churchillian gem, on the then Russia – “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, until the publication, on June 27, of the alleged settlement between the Municipality and DA Councillor Pierre Nel in the drawn-out legal battle of Nel v. Oudtshoorn Municipality when some light in the darkness rapidly morphed into an incandescent a-ha moment…

“It’s about the legal costs, stupid”, to crib the famous Clinton-Gore mantra.

It is common cause that Nel, in consequence of the SCA Judgement in Nel v. Oudtshoorn Municipality, is staring down the barrel at a legal bill approximating R4m, at least.

It is further common cause that the DA is at least morally obligated to settle this bill.

It is also common cause that an expensive general election campaign is at hand.

That the coup is a function of a cunning plan to avoid the legal bill, is now as clear as lightning on a dark Karoo night.

And the cunning is as transparent as a Victoria’s Secret chemise and as fugly as same in a before image of a halfpenny diet ad.

On June 27 counsel for Nel, Nic Barrow, instructed former counsel for the Municipality Duncan Korabie in the following terms:

INSAKE: PA NEL / OUDTSHOORN MUNISIPALITEIT

U skrywe van 26 Julie 2013 verwys.

U het my uit die bloute en vir die eerste keer geskakel toe ek besig was om inkopies te doen en gevra na die saak nommer. Ek het u gevra om ‘n brief te rig vir die besonderhede aangesien ek dit nie by my gehad het nie. U het dit nie gedoen nie.

Die saak is nou geskik tussen Mnr Nel en die meerderheid van die Raadslede. U is gister met sulke dokumente bedien. Die saak is afgehandel. DOOD! Enige koste wat u verder sou probeer aanwend sal vir u eie rekening wees en defnitief nie vir die belastingbetaler van Oudtshoorn nie. Wees verseker hiervan. U het moontlik nooit ‘n behoorlike mandaat gehad nie en tans het u defnitief geen mandaat nie. Indien u op u eie sou voortploeter sal ons die saak by die Wetsgenootskap rapporteer en sal u enige verdere gevolge moet dra.

Ironically, Barrow’s “dismissal” came after Council terminated Korabie’s mandate.

The incongruity of a settlement once a case had been stacked, packed and racked is patently obvious.

This iniquitous deus ex machina simply will not do, coming, as it is, on the back of some trickery to have had Council believe that the matter would be referred to the Constitutional Court in some apparent attempt to buy time for the orchestration of the coup.

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