Today represents one of the most important polling days ever in Oudtshoorn.
Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 7 August 2013. 08h20. Let’s be clear: I do not support the ANC.
I give you education and health. And Jacob Zuma. And I rest my case.
But the DA – the current 11 in the caucus – should NEVER run Oudtshoorn. I would not have this sorry lot decide my brand of bottled water. They are useless. Make that USELESS.
I can hardly expect to influence government in South Africa, or even in the Western Cape. Maybe not even in Eden. But I have designs on influencing government in Oudtshoorn.
And right now, right here, I am telling you that the local ANC has the best chance of running Oudtshoorn, even if it is just because one man, Gordon April, is prepared to rise up in the face of national and provincial government – and his own party’s national, provincial, regional and local leadership in stopping the rot.
Let me explain… And I am risking my professional standing with a client, the municipality, in doing this:
I had the opportunity recently to draft a confidential memo for April. I am now breaching that confidence because I am convinced that it is in the best interest of Oudtshoorn.
Hell, my views have cost me dearly in the past, why would I now chicken and choke!?
In this memo April takes on outrageous appointments across party lines and Oudtshoorn governments: Mubesko Africa; Major General Trading CC; and several attorneys.
Mubesko is a consulting practice which focuses primarily on the local government sphere. The firm was appointed by the previous DA Government of Oudtshoorn and was paid more than R14m for services relating to the solving of apparently alarming financial management problems, ranging from outstanding bank reconciliations to the repair and readying of the asset register – which DA councillors still maintain does not exist. It appears, at first sight, that this contract was not managed appropriately by the administration.
I suspect that the DA’s Mubesko-Tinus Matthysen adventure cost ratepayers upwards of R20m and counting.
Major General Trading CC was appointed by former Municipal Manager Thandekile Mnyimba to audit and recover alleged erroneous VAT payments to SARS. It appears, at first sight, that this contract resulted in significant financial loss to the municipality.
The Weekend Argus reported in April 2012 that the embattled Oudtshoorn Municipality has awarded a multi-million-rand VAT recovery contract to the ANC’s regional treasurer in the Southern Cape. And the municipal manager has defended the decision to deviate from supply chain policies to award the tender to the ANC member, citing the municipality’s precarious financial position as an excuse. The chief financial officer had identified VAT recovery as one of the means of addressing the municipal budget deficit which runs to millions of rand, said municipal manager Thandekile Mnyimba. The George company which won the contract, Major General Trading CC (MGT), has two listed directors – ANC regional secretary Major Sokopo and Phumeza Sokopo. Confirming the awarding of the contract to MGT Business Enterprises, Mnyimba said “the municipality appointed (the company), not an individual”. He explained that the contract related to the review of the municipality’s VAT payable to Sars, and whether the municipality claimed all input VAT from Sars. According to Mnyimba, Oudtshoorn had a deficit of R15.2 million during the budget adjustment of 2011/12. “In an attempt to improve the financial situation of the municipality, the council resolved that the municipal manager continues to identify and implement measures to reduce expenditure and increase revenue in order to improve the municipality’s financial position.” The chief financial officer subsequently identified VAT recovery as one of the means of doing so. “…this is an urgent matter, hence an application to deviate from the normal supply chain policy in terms of section 36 of the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulations, was approved,” Mnyimba said. But MaxProf, the company which until last year did the VAT recovery job, said they knew nothing about the award of the tender. The company’s Bernard Saayman denied there was an “emergency”, adding that there was “no cause for a section 36 because our company has done the review up until February last year”. When the initial tender was advertised last year, MaxProf was still doing work at the municipality. Saayman’s contract has since expired, and even though they put in a tender, he said the entire process was halted last year. “If you put out a tender, there’s a process that needs to be followed. We were supposed to have been notified so that we could lodge our objections within 14 days. But this did not happen,” he added. Commenting on the contract, ANC Southern Cape/Klein Karoo secretary Putco Mapitiza said: “We believe that Mr Sokopo has a right to do business with whomever, therefore there is nothing wrong in him doing business with the Oudtshoorn municipal council.” He added that the ANC was happy the municipality followed due process in awarding the tender to Sokopo. “We are aware of tendencies wanting to play cheap politicking on the matter. But we also want to warn people using the name of the ANC of dire consequences.” However, an anonymous source revealed that disgruntled ANC members had confronted Mnyimba about the tender more than a week ago. “They wanted answers. There was no need to deviate from supply chain policies as the matter was not urgent.” According to the insider, Mnyimba and Sokopo are “old pals”. Asked to comment, Western Cape Local Government MEC Anton Bredell said he was not aware of the VAT recovery contract. Although the awarding of the contract was not illegal, it could be seen as immoral when political figures benefited, Bredell added. The Oudtshoorn tender drama comes in the wake of a similar incident last month, when Bredell revealed that a company owned by the ANC’s Western Cape treasurer, Fezile Calana, was paid R200 000 by the Cederberg Municipality.
O!O’s calls for action upon Sokopo’s appointment were met with complete indifference by both the ANC and the DA councillors – and even the Western Cape ministry of local government.
Then Oudtshoorn DA Chair Hannes Barnard wrote me:
… jy (hou) aan met treiter en steeds op dieselfde snaar asof die saak deur jou onthul, Kuba Missielkrisis-afmetings inhou. Wat verwag jy moet wie NOU doen? (Daar is) geen rede waarom die klaarblyke onwettige handeling van die munisipale bestuurder juis hierdie naweek DA optrede en of persverklarings vereis nie. Allermins verwag ek in ‘n Regstaat dat Provinsiale Regering oornag ingryp. Ek het my reeds uitgespreek teen oorhaastige ‘Wild West’ optrede. Ek volstaan daarby… Die DA koukus sal binne die reg hul demokratiese regte (en plig) uitoefen. Dan kyk ons hoe reageer die ANC koalisie in regering op Oudtshoorn. Dan tree ons verder binne raamwerk van die regsorde op… Terloops, as minister Bredell nie reageer op jou skrywes nie, soek jy verniet by my om jou hoorsê-berigte oor te dra.
Nou ja toe… DA action personified: Don’t bug me, I’m busy.
Attorneys were appointed in the Mnyimba term of office and it has come to my attention that fees may have been levied that appear to be far higher than generally accepted in the profession. The accounts will now be taxed and any and all overpayments will be recovered.
Various other contracts and related matters that recently came to light will also be investigated.
April asks that the circumstances of the appointments, and the outcomes of the contracts, and any and all detriment resulting from the contracts are to be extensively investigated and reported to him for apposite action.
What has the DA done of late?
In the two months the DA has NOT been in power, since its futile “take-over” on May 31, the DA has cost the ratepayers of Oudtshoorn some R1.5m in legal costs by refusing – THREE TIMES – to admit the illegitimacy of its impetuous roguery and force the “take-over” con to the high court.
And the DA attempted to rip off the ratepayers by another R4.5m through this “settlement” Constitutional Court con!
In the two months the DA has NOT been in power, the DA has cost the ratepayers of Oudtshoorn some R6m in obstinate Apartheid style kragdadigheid.
And the DA wants the voters of Oudtshoorn to come back for more abuse!
If the DA can do this to the people of Oudtshoorn when the DA is NOT in power, just think of the damage the DA can cause when it governs Oudtshoorn! Too ghastly to contemplate!
The DA go to the polls today with two of their sitting councillors, the seasoned Pierre Nel and the “mayor designate” Ben van Wyk, suspected of fraud and already suspended by the party executive.
With some of the sitting councillors claiming that all councillors were in on the spectacular Constitutional Court con when a questionable “settlement” based on some dubious “decision of a majority of councillors” were dished up as a half-baked concoction and some other of the sitting councillors denying participation in what has been described as a spectacular fraud on the ratepayers, one wonders how anybody can trust a vote to a party whose very sitting public representatives are lying to each other and to their leaders – those leaders who are not in on the con!
There will, unfortunately, not be many rational votes today.
People will vote with their scars. And with their prejudices.
Which party supplied more food during the last few weeks?
Be that as it may, and given my personal conviction that a very few people ever change their minds by fact, if they change at all, Oudtshoorn in the hands of the local DA caucus will be facing a real and present danger.
I am afraid I may have compromised my relationship with the mayor in writing this. But Oudtshoorn has to know.