“The Settlement” bears even more dissent
Decision makers turn to O!O first for what’s really happening in Eden
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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 30 July 2013. 07h00. Nic Barrow has demanded R500,000 in damages for defamation from DA Leader Premier Helen Zille.
Zille’s curt response in answer to my query in the matter: “I’ll see him in court.”
Barrow claims to have been defamed by Zille’s comments on the troublesome so-called “settlement” in the Pierre Nel vs. Oudtshoon Municipality case reported in the Saturday Argus of July 13 – see the story below.
Barrow has also threatened the Argus and journalist Warda Meyer with law suits.
Barrow currently has numerous law suits in progress. He has sued Mayor Gordon April; Speaker John Stoffels; Media Liaison Officer Ntobeko Mangqwegqwe and others.
In a letter to the municipality’s external legal advisor, Hardy Mills, Barrow recently asked that all matters be deferred until after August 7 – by-election day.
It would appear that much rides on August 7…
However, whatever the outcome of the by-elections, it has now become clear that the High Court case John Stoffels vs. Ben van Wyk et al will be heard on August 13, even though events will at the time have been overtaken by the course of events.
The reason for the hearing to continue is to determine the legality of the May 31 meeting that followed the formal council meeting. And, of course, to determine who will pay the costs.
It would ceratinly be appropriate for the court to decide the lawfulness of the meeting of 31 May. An authoritative judicial finding is called for.
The Constitutional Court con has become a major consideration to be heard on 13 August.
I asked Zille why only Pierre Nel and Ben van Wyk had their memberships suspended, and not all 11 members of the DA caucus.
The DA leader argued that it is not clear whether or not all caucus members were party to the “settlement” decision – the so-called “Resolution 24/6/13” that nobody has ever seen – except, probably, the signatories.
This clearly indicates that some of the caucus members are denying participation. And this indicates a split caucus – there is serious devisions in DA ranks in Oudtshoorn. (O!O has already indicated that there are at least two camps in the local DA, influenced by different members of the party leadership. This division seems to grow as this Constitutional Court con continues to undermine unity.)
There are current views that Nel’s signature was forged on the document. O!O rejects this notion, even though Nel is not forthcoming with confirmation or denial that it is indeed his signature on the document.
It is not so much the questionable legality of the DA’s 31 May and 24 and 25 June doingses that irks me; it is the abject stupidity of it all that sickens me.
I’d like to think that the opposition in the Oudtshoorn council is not made up of rank idiots. And it would appear that it is indeed the case: The DA caucus has no political intelligence at all.
And to crown the DA’s troubles, some of the “apostate five” are now beginning to sing – because the DA’s promises of “support” are not materialising. More later. Lots more. As in sommer baie meer…
Here’s that Argus story:
Zille moves to discipline DA councillors over deed of settlement
13 Jul 2013
Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)
DA Leader Helen Zille has instituted disciplinary steps against her own councillors in the embattled Oudtshoorn municipality, where trouble has been brewing over a suspicious “deed of settlement’ entered into by DA councillors over a private legal bill.
It recently emerged that the DA councillors, on behalf of the municipality, had settled with one of their own, DA councillor Pierre Nel, who lost his case, with costs, after a legal battle with the municipality.
But according to the “new settlement”, each party will pay its own costs of the estimated R4.5 million bill, despite costs being awarded to the municipality by the Western Cape High Court and later by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
The deed of settlement will, in effect, see taxpayers pay about R2m for Nel’s legal bill against the municipality.
Municipal insiders said 11 DA councillors and a Cope councillor conspired to push through the settlement in an attempt to avoid Nel having to pay the legal costs himself. This came shortly after the DA’s May 31 take-over bid in the local municipality.
Insiders claimed further that the settlement drafted by well-known Oudtshoorn businessman and attorney Nic Barrow on behalf of Nel and DA councillor Ben van Wyk was made to resemble an official Constitutional Court document, but lacked an official Constitutional Court case number. It indicated that Nel would withdraw the application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, although no such case existed.
An outraged Zille denied that the DA had authorised any settlement instruction.
“The DA would never accept or condone, let alone implement any so-called agreement which requires the ratepayers to pay a private legal bill.”
The DA leader said she asked one of the councillors involved to explain the situation, and had subsequently received documentation.
“I immediately instructed that disciplinary procedures be implemented against the DA councillors allegedly involved. I have asked Local Government MEC Anton Bredell whether criminal charges should be brought,” she added.
Zille also wants action taken against Barrow: “It is clear that Nic Barrow, a local businessman, was central to these developments, and should not escape the consequences.”
Approached for comment, Bredell said he was investigating lodging criminal charges, and would make a decision on the way forward by early next week.
Oudtshoorn mayor Gordon April called the “settlement” a “figment of some fraught fantasy”. He accused Barrow, the DA councillors and the Cope councillor of conspiring to dump the legal costs on unsuspecting ratepayers, and has subsequently laid criminal charges against all involved.
Nel could not be reached for comment, but DA spokesman Chris MacPherson said the incident was being blown out of proportion because there was no federal DA approval for such an agreement.
Barrow called the allegations false and baseless, and said he had issued summons against the mayor and the media liaison officer for the municipality, for defamation. He is suing each for R300 000.
Concerning the alleged criminal cases against his client, Barrow said he was not aware of any such cases.
DREWAN BAIRD COMMUNICATION – Sensaytional – 076 349 6316
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