Early morning Friday, in an unprecedented move, Memory Booysen, the Mayor of Bitou Municipality (and the first black DA mayor in South Africa), illegally interfered with the Administration by closing their offices and sending the staff home.
This sms was allegedly sent by him to Municipal Manager Allen Paulse who then, allegedly, forwarded it to staff members and some residents:
“Business as Usual in Bitou: I wish to assure the residents of Bitou municipality that the attempted ‘special council meeting’ convened by ANC councilor’s and the Deputy Executive Mayor Adam Van Rhyner this morning was illegal and counter to council procedures and therefore it would have been illegal.
The council received information of a possible danger to property and life and in order to protect the municipality I took the extraordinary decision to partly and temporarily close front of house offices of the municipality today.
Council will be running normally as of Monday and I have engaged with the South African Police Service to ensure the safety of municipal officials and citizens making use of the municipal building.
These councilors will not be allowed to make a mockery of municipal practice and procedures. Service delivery is our main priority and I will be taking further action to prevent any further disruption to council work.
Memory Booysen Executive Mayor”
I phoned Booysen but he wasn’t taking calls so i’m left to speculate on how his SMS doesn’t add up logically.
- The description “business as usual” was inappropriate for this highly unusual business.
- The majority of Councillors CAN legally call a special council meeting.
- Booysen alludes to a threat without proof (a strategy he has used before when previously claiming threats to his life which were never presented or substantiated yet resulted in him spending R270 000 of taxpayer’s money per month on bodyguards, an act that gained him national media coverage and a ‘moral’ victory point for the DA over the ANC but a hole in the taxpayers’ pockets).
Further to the threat lacking substance was a phone call i had with Speaker Annelise Olivier. She claimed several times that there was a “flammable situation” and danger to property that had prompted not only the municipality’s closure but her cancellation of another council meeting (that was set for this coming Monday). However, when asked directly to name the threat, she was unable to because she did not know of one. Furthermore, when i stated that stopping the majority of councillors from having a meeting is illegal, and asking why she didn’t rather hold the meeting and then deny the tabling of the ANC and COPE’s motion of no confidence, she said that i’d have to ask Municipal Manager Allen Paulse. That made no sense as it’s her responsibility as Speaker and politician, not Allen Paulse’s.
- I queried Mphakamisi (Phaki) Mbali, the Chief Whip of the ANC, who stated that there was no threat and that the cancelled council meetings and the closed Municipality were attempts by Memory Booysen to hold onto power: “Memory’s action was simply illegal. The head of administration cannot affect service to citizens.” He said that he and his colleagues would turn up for work on Monday as usual and that on Tuesday they would have the Speaker table their motions of no confidence. When querying possible intimidation from his side against the Municipality and the DA, he laughed, saying that the law was on their side and the transition of power would be peaceful.
- I have been emailed photos that showed no protestors this past Friday, just politicians, a few SAPS members and locked doors.
It would appear that Mayor Memory Booysen exceeded his bounds. He either made a poor decision, or was poorly advised, on how best to deal with the possible takeover of Council by the ANC and COPE which would result in his and the DA’s loss of power.
As a follow-up, read ‘Will COPE’s Lekota Stop the Bitou Takeover by Recalling Councillor Adam van Rhyner’.