What a day!
Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 21 August 2013. 21h00. The Executive Mayor of the Greater Oudtshoorn, Alderman Gordon April, issued a media statement late Wednesday night on the events of a day that saw a council meeting rescheduled and a demand for another vacated; and the suspension of four councollors.
April says that “every decision made and every effect given to impactful decisions made today were the result of careful consideration of meticulously researched information.”
The statement confirms that the convening of Council meetings is regulated by various legislative prescripts, including Council’s Rules of Order.
The DA’s demand, on August 13, for a council meeting ito s29 of the relevant act, could not be met as Rule 30(2)(b) of the Oudtshoorn Council’s Rules of Order states, inter alia, that no discussion shall be permitted on any matter in respect of which a decision by a judicial or quasi-judicial body or a commission of enquiry is pending.
Based on the DA’s persistence in defending the speaker’s High Court application about the DA’s false attempt to take control of council on May 31 – Stoffels v Van Wyk et al – April says that he was confused as to how the DA caucus could have requested the ‘speaker’ to convene such a meeting, since the DA caucus collectively allege that alderman Stoffels is indeed not the speaker.
Accordingly, due to the persistent DA defense of this High Court application the speaker was not in a position to accede to the DA’s request for a Council meeting for their stated reasons, as the subject matter and relevance of their request is currently pending before a judicial body, being the High Court of the Western Cape.
The speaker is the custodian of council affairs, and have a statutory duty to act in the best interest of council, and in such a way that the credibility and integrity of Council is not compromised.
April says that he is of the informed opinion that allowing a discussion based on the DA’s demand would impugn the credibility and integrity of council, especially in the light of the Stoffels v Van Wyk matter currently pending before the High Court.
The speaker has no discretion in this matter, notes April, and the speaker is both duty-bound and legally obligated to have vacated the demand for a meeting to consider motions pending a High Court hearing.
April says that a council meeting will be scheduled shortly in order for council to consider the adoption of the amended/revised 2013/2014 budget.
With regard to the scheduled council meeting for 10h00 Thursday, April says that the speaker was interrupted in his drafting of the relevant notices and the agenda in order to accommodate the DA’s internal ills after he was made aware of DA advocate David Bergström’s communiqué that “the meeting is not going ahead on Thursday, for internal DA reasons”.
In another surprising turn councillors Chris MacPherson, Ben van Wyk and Pierre Nel were suspended as councillors with immediate effect because they are believed to be interfering with an ongoing investigation into the fraudulent settlement in the Pierre Nel v Oudtshoon Municipality matter.
MacPherson is now being investigated together with Nel and Van Wyk for his part in the settlement in lieu of incriminating information brought to the speaker’s attention.
In answer to a speaker’s rights and duties in suspending councillors, April says that the speaker sought legal advice and is satisfied that he acted within his rights in executing his duties to enforce and protect investigations relating to violations of the Code of Conduct.
April emphasised that the suspension of councillor Harmse is a grave matter of particular concern to him.
Serious accusations of bribery and corruption against Harmse have been brought to the speaker’s attention.
Affidavits in the speaker’s possession reveal disturbing behaviour by Harmse over many years.
He was “confident that today’s dauntless decisions confirm good governance in Oudtshoorn”, says April.
“The matters at hand are of a critical moment and in order to protect the integrity of investigations no additional detail can at this time be revealed. No further official comment will be made before the investigations are concluded.”
I will publish an analysis of the events some time tomorrow.
I have, however, become aware that yet another news charge is about to detonate.
Oudtshoorn. Cry the beloved dorp.