Bitou municipality, which prides itself on distinct stability of its coalition government in the Western Cape, view the action of the Minister Bredell as a publicity stunt and abuse of authority for political gain.
Firstly, “the allegation made in the statement that Bitou Council wanted to prevent Section 106 intervention by the Minister into the dealing of the municipality following eleven different serious allegations of misconduct”, are not true.
It is correct that the Bitou Municipality launched an application with the Western Cape high court for the review and setting aside of the decision by the Minister. Part A of this application sought an urgent order that the investigation launched by the Minister be stayed pending the review, the action is a legally permissible process and not a waste of the ratepayers money. While Part B the decision of the MEC to institute the enquiry is sought to be reviewed together with a directive that the MEC produce the relevant record of the decision.
The above orders were sought as the result of the approached adopted by the Minister, which the council believed his conduct falls foul of the constitutional principles of legality and Principles enshrined in the provisions of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act. For example:
The Council because of the above-mentioned facts concluded that the Minister is likely to consistently act in a manner designed to enable him to exercise control over municipalities or to ensure that they bend to his will. There is evidence to suggest that this is particularly the case where a party other than that he represents holds power in that municipality
It is for the above reasons, that the application for the review and setting aside of the Minister decision to implement Section 106 Systems Act and S5 of the Monitoring Act. It was for the court to decide on a fair procedure that should be exercised by the minister. The application for the review talks to many other procedural issues, which we will be unwise to reveal at this stage on in this statement because the matter is sub-judice.
The key whistle –blower became the lead investigator and this made us to be concerned as this could be seen as a conflict of interest. Therefore, it could have compromised the investigation and possible outcomes.
As a municipality, we are well renowned for our stance for clean and responsible governance. This makes us to welcome the decision of the high court and do not question it. However, as the municipality, we have meticulously engaged on the merits and have nothing to fear hence our stance of welcoming the investigation to commence.
Hoping that this will not be another of the many previous political stunts pulled by the opposition party that continuously seeks to, unduly, get the municipality under provincial administration. This could once again result in wasteful expenditure of ratepayers’ money.
Issued By: James Sijama on behalf of
Bitou Local Municipality