The Democratic Alliance has been interfering in towns in the Southern Cape for their political benefit. The conflict of interest of MEC Anton Bredell, who doubles as the DA’s Western Cape Chairperson, has been well reported on this website. The GOOD party has already laid a complaint against him, with the national office of the Public Protector. They’ve now added Premier Alan Winde. Yesterday, 5 July 2020, Brett Herron, Western Cape MPL and Secretary-General of GOOD, released the following statement.
PREMIER ALAN WINDE ADDED TO PUBLIC PROTECTOR COMPLAINT ON DA MEDDLING IN SOUTHERN CAPE
PUBLIC PROTECTOR REQUESTED TO INVESTIGATE PREMIER WINDE AND MEC BREDELL FOR BREACH OF THE EXECUTIVE ETHICS CODE
BREDELL SHOULD BE FIRED FROM THE WESTERN CAPE CABINET
I have added an extraordinary explanation by Premier Alan Winde for political meddling by the DA in Oudsthoorn to the dossier on corruption and maladministration in the town submitted this week to the Office of the Public Protector for investigation.
Winde told a meeting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 23 June 2020 there are two ways for a province to take over the administrations of municipalities: Either “rule of law” or “political agreement”.
Winde was defending the right of DA provincial chairman Anton Bredell, who is also the province’s MEC for Local Government, to hatch a deal with Oudtshoorn’s councillors to hand over all their official responsibilities to the province while continuing to receive their salaries. Bredell was secretly recorded outlining the conspiracy to councillors.
Winde’s response was either dishonest or ignorant.
He should know that municipalities are autonomous spheres of government with rights to govern protected by the Constitution. He should know, or have been advised, that Section 139 of the Constitution provides for the Provincial Executive to intervene in very limited circumstances and in accordance with the law – as set out in the Municipal Systems Act.
Winde should know that the “rule of law” cannot be subverted by political agreement. That is the stuff of banana republics. As a Premier, he should know the basic principles of constitutionality and legality.
The Premier’s misguided support for Bredell’s tactics is inconsistent with his position as Premier, and makes him complicit in what we have described to the Public Protector as the political capture of Southern Cape towns by national and provincial DA structures and leaders.
The party is using the provincial government it leads to subvert both the Constitution and Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act in order to get its hands into the administrations of small but well-heeled towns. We have seen similar patterns emerge in George, Oudtshoorn and Knysna.
Both Winde and Bredell are in breach of the Executive Code of Ethics. Here’s why…
On 6 March 2020 the former Mayor of Oudtshoorn, Colan Sylvester, wrote to the Premier reporting the MEC for Local Government, Anton Bredell, for a breach of the Executive Code of Ethics.
Sylvester reported that Bredell had failed to act when alerted in March 2019 to alleged corruption and maladministration involving the municipal manager; that Bredell had attempted to persuade DA councillors to request him to place the town under administration in order to free them up to do political work in the run up to the elections; and that he suspected Bredell had colluded with a member of the Hawks to bring false criminal charges against the Mayor.
Sylvester had asked Bredell to assist the municipality to initiate a forensic investigation into these allegations. But instead of initiating the investigation, as he was obliged by law to do, Bredell ignored the letter – responding only 10 months later after the issue of the letter became evidence in an internal DA disciplinary process.
In the meantime, from March 2019 to May 2019 the former Mayor was unable to table the allegations, or a proposed budget, because the DA Speaker refused to convene a council meeting. A DA Speaker, obliged by law to convene council meetings, would only be able to get away with refusing to convene a meeting if supported by party leadership.
When the DA got wind of the fact that former Mayor Sylvester had prepared his own report on the corruption allegations which he intended to table in Council, in May 2019, then Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, James Selfe MP, wrote a letter to Sylvester instructing him to “cease and desist” from tabling the report because he did not have the “permission” of the DA Federal Executive to take action against a senior manager.
“The Federal Executive has not been informed as to why such a motion is necessary nor has it given permission for such a motion to be contemplated. I would therefore request that you cease and desist from moving any motions involving the removal or suspension of any political office bearer or senior staff member. All such contemplated motions should be discussed with the Federal Executive,” Selfe said.
But Sylvester forged ahead. When the council convened he tabled the allegations, the Municipal Manager was suspended, and the council instituted an investigation.
Two investigative reports finalised in May 2020 by law firm Webber Wentzel concluded that there was damning evidence to support the allegations against the Municipal Manager. They recommend disciplinary action against the Municipal Manager for maladministration, fraud and corruption and, unusually, they also recommended a criminal complaint for financial misconduct be laid with SAPS.
The reports prepared by Webber Wentzel vindicate the concerns raised by the former Mayor and raise serious questions as to why the DA, including Selfe, Bredell and their Oudtshoorn Speaker (Julia Le Roux), went to such great lengths to prevent him tabling these allegations.
Bredell’s conduct constituted a breach of Section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act, which obliges him to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud, maladministration and serious malpractice that are brought to his attention. He ignored the allegations for ten months, responding only after Sylvester initiated action in the Oudtshoorn council.
Bredell’s efforts to collude with DA Councilors to get them to request him, in his capacity as MEC for Local Government, to place the town under administration, is a shocking breach of the Executive Ethics Code requiring members to act diligently and honestly, fulfill all obligations imposed on them by law, act in good faith, act in a manner consistent with the integrity of their office and avoid conflicts of interest.
Bredell has breached every one of these provisions, and should be fired from the provincial executive.
Winde, by failing to conduct an enquiry into whether Bredell had breached the Executive Code of Ethics, despite Sylvester’s entreaty, which was subsequently backed by the findings of the Webber Wentzel forensic investigation, is also guilty of breaching the Executive Ethics Code.
The Premier’s breach is compounded by his defense of Bredell, which is misguided in both ethics and law.
In light of the above I have requested the Public Protector to conduct an investigation in terms of the Executive Ethics Act.
Below is a transcript of Winde’s defense of Bredell’s conspiracy to place Oudtshoorn under administration, at the portfolio committee meeting of 23 June 2020.
“…when it comes to talking about recordings and administration, obviously what is happening here is very similar to what happened previously in Oudtshoorn where the local government MEC, in his role as an MEC, has one job to do but also a political job because he also is the Chairman of a political party. But what they are doing is looking at an administration at that stage and of course it had happened once before. I remember personally being involved in the one before because it was an agreement between the national minister, it was then Pravin Gordhan, and myself as well as Minister Bredell and his HOD, and of course they can give some more information on that. That’s how administrations work. You’ve got two ways of doing it. One, you can get a political agreement on an administration, or you have got to actually follow the rule of law and there are a whole lot of other trigger points but these take a very long time, through lots of court cases etc. And of course, if you can find a political settlement on getting an administration in place, in our experience that is definitely the best way to get it done.”
Read the sequel: ‘Secret Recording: Ex-DA boss James Selfe interfered in Oudtshoorn’