Municipal Manager Ron Lottering speaks up
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Drewan Baird. Oudtshoorn. 27 January 2014. 15h45. MM Ron Lottering this afternoon issued a bold statement on the influence of perverse politicking on his administration.
On June 1, the Saturday after the DA’s unsuccessful and illegal attempt at coup in the Oudtshoorn council, attorney for the municipality Hardy Mills wrote the local DA leadership to seek “urgent assurance that no steps will be taken pursuant to resolutions purportedly adopted at an unlawful gathering of councillors held after the Council meeting of Friday, 31 May 2013 was duly adjourned by the Speaker…” and trusting “that urgent court action can be avoided”.
Caucus leader Wessie van der Westhuizen replied: “You are absolutely welcome to take any court action you like to.” (sic)
The rest is history. Speaker John Stoffels did approach the Western Cape High Court; and on September 10 Mr Justice André le Grange ruled the May 31 trickery unlawful and ordered cost against the DA and apostate ANC councillors.
To this day Case 8616/2013 remains the only, the sole, the lone, the solitary court action initiated by the legitimate speaker… won with cost: The legitimate town government and the municipality of the Greater Oudtshoorn incurred no cost to the ratepayers by legal action following the illegitimate orchestrated guile of the DA on May 31.
The municipality at this time eagerly awaits defrayment by the rogue councillors who appear to grab at every straw to avoid responsibility for their illegal and dastardly actions.
Several subsequent attempts by the administration to bring the matter of government to a quick and fiscally prudent head for the benefit of ratepayers and residents were thwarted by the DA.
On July 26 the DA replied, in writing, to a second invitation to dialogue: “Our response to your mediation proposal was rejected previously (June 1) and is still unacceptable.”
On August 14 Mills again approaches the DA in response to the DA’s position on the legal process in the light of the August 7 by-elections and whether or not it was necessary to have the matter proceed: “Simple and honest answers to simple and honest questions goes a far way sometimes…”
The DA’s response?
“Please do as you wish.”
On December 2 Mills wrote the State’s Attorney to again invite the DA to meet in order to find “an amicable way forward for all the parties concerned”.
The State’s Attorney responded within 10 minutes: “Same has been brought to the attention of our client and we await their feedback… I look forward to hearing from you.”
Mills immediately thanked the State’s Attorney and declared himself available for the soonest meeting.
On December 3, however, the DA responds “that no purpose will be served in the proposed meeting and matters must take its course”. (sic)
The DA’s shut door approach, in service solely of power at all cost, is succinctly and irremissibly confirmed by one of its earliest responses to the invitations to talk – a somewhat funny, somewhat laconic, somewhat desperate, yet completely revealing and revelatory reaction of the party’s legal advisor to Mills: “… You are negotiating with yourself.”
The toing and froing ended in a final high handed DA response – “as in the past, please do exactly as you wish…” followed by a cordial confirmation by Mills that the door would remain open.
Such hauteur in the face of continued political and legal frustration speaks eloquently to the DA’s futile attempt at kragdadigheid arrogating as standing.
The DA has not covered itself in glory in Oudtshoorn.
Enormous expense accrued to ratepayers, even above the bills mothered by the illegal DA action in its obstinate quest for power at all cost:
No contribution by DA councillors was made since they scuttled the budget they had previously supported even somewhat enthusiastically, and the embarrassing bloody nose on May 31.
The mischievous politicking; and the public instigation to civil disorder, even in formal forums, undermined Oudtshoorn’s administration, and diverted valuable energy and dear resources, and occupied minds that should have been exclusively tuned on service delivery.
Even so the Oudtshoorn administration reports that
* The Auditor-General has issued an unqualified audit report for the Oudtshoorn Municipality;
* Annual bonuses has been paid;
* The half-yearly interest payments on external loans are paid up;
* Creditors are being paid within 30 days;
* Cash-flow is positive;
* Cash influx curves upward;
* The relationship with organised business is at a high;
* Province has confirmed that all compliance reports are filed timely, but commented that stronger action is demanded to recover debtors. To this end the recovery of some R7.2m in legal costs and wasteful expenditure from DA councillors are being pursued vigorously.
The outcome of “Oudtshoorn 2013” is therefore disturbingly telling: participation by the DA is evidently not a prerequisite to successful town management. In Oudtshoorn, clearly, the administration runs rather well in the absence of DA influence. Not even DA attempts at disruption is effectively planned and efficiently executed – and the dearth of DA influence does not harm service delivery, the very raison d’etre of municipalities, at all.
Water, electricity, sewerage, indigence, disaster management, and all other services are delivered in the complete and total absence of DA participation – DA councillors do not attend municipal functions; DA councillors do not attend ward committee meetings; DA councillors do not attend municipal strategy, technical, finance, corporate, or community committee meetings. The DA makes no contribution to the management of Oudtshoorn whatsoever. For the DA is too busy plotting for power.
And repeated invitations to participate remain shunned…
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