11 opposition councillors from the DA/Cope coalition in Oudtshoorn Municipality were removed by the Speaker (whose NPP in coalition with the ANC) from their positions for non-attendance of 3 consecutive meetings early in 2014. It was the latest salvo in the war for the town and, like the rest, was soon to be mired in costly legal battles funded by unwilling taxpayers.
Without a quorum, no decision taken at Council could be legal, thus placing a huge spanner in the cogs of the administration.
It’s for possible problems such as this that there exists a Code of Conduct of Councillors. Relevant to this matter, it states that, “A member who without leave absents himself or herself from a meeting or who fails to be in attendance at the start of the meeting or fails to remain in attendance at such a meeting, in in breach of these rules.”
That the DA and COPE did so for political reasons, justified or unjustified, is irrelevant as they abandoned their posts and disobeyed the law. Legal justification is required, not political justification.
The disruptive councillors objected to the composition of the Disciplinary Committee as it never contained any DA or COPE members, suggesting bias. However biased it may seem, the fact is that all of the DA and COPE members, bar a solitary DA member, Peter Roberts, were being disciplined. Thus their argument was moot as it was impossible to comply with.
For attending the Council meeting, as is required by law, Peter Roberts was, ironically, expelled from the DA.
When supplying Helen Zille with information against the ANC in Oudtshoorn, i added the postscript:
“You will likely be aware of my poor opinion of the actions of both the ANC and the DA in Oudtshoorn. It’s the perfect example of politics for politicians instead of the public. What makes it especially difficult is that the only person, with the limited knowledge i have, that appears to be above the mess is Peter Roberts yet you’re trying to kick him out of the DA. If i’m correct in my opinion of him, that’s the type of person you should be supporting (not booting). Sure, there’s a war on for South Africa (and much is at stake so situations will get messy) but there’s only so many times moral deviations can be justified before it becomes normal behaviour.”
Zille’s office chose not to respond to that… or the valuable information she was given.
The DA took the expulsion to court and won… but because the law is so murky, Judge Owen Rogers declared this past week that his decision can be taken to appeal. Thus, whilst poor Oudtshoorn stagnates, the ANC and DA await the next court battle, this time in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.