DA silence sinks meeting
The lack of feedback from the DA and the cancellation of the mayoral speech caused a huge outcry among the opposition as well as in the public gallery during the George council meeting yesterday. It was the first council meeting following the clampdown by the Hawks on George Municipality on 23 April.
George Speaker, Gerrit Pretorius, adjourned yesterday's meeting just an hour and a half after it started, in response to disruptive dancing and singing by the opposition councillors. This created a festive atmosphere amid the doom and gloom following the Hawks' raid.
Charlie Williams and Langa Langa of the ANC vouched that the meeting would be disrupted should the DA continue to act in an "arrogant manner" by ignoring the opposition's requests for "direction". When it became clear no formal report on the developments since the raid would be forthcoming, the opposition, true to their word, disrupted the proceedings.
Pretorius, still not willing to order Acting Mayor Charlotte Clarke to report back to Council on the current state of affairs in George, then opted to adjourn the meeting.
Mayor Melvin Naik took leave until 25 May shortly after it came to light that he is one of the people investigated by the police, and was not in council to deliver his mayoral address. The opposition expected Clarke, as acting mayor, to put the councillors in the loop regarding political and municipal matters, especially since DA Regional Chairman Jaco Londt confirmed last week that he has written to the DA's Federal Executive Committee (Fedex) asking for the mayor's suspension.
When it became clear no formal report on the developments since the raid would be forthcoming, the opposition, true to their word, disrupted the proceedings.
No response has been received from Fedex by the time of going to press. Pretorius said that "to our knowledge", the mayor has not been suspended. He referred media inquiries on Naik's possible suspension back to the DA. The office of the Minister of Local Government, Anton Bredell, referred all inquiries regarding Municipal Manager Trevor Botha and Naik's positions to the George Municipality and the Hawks. According to information, both individuals are being investigated by the Hawks.
No nearer to the truth
Opposition parties' leaders demanded an official written report on the state of affairs, while the DA remained tight-lipped. Well into the meeting Pretorius attempted to give some feedback, saying he had sent Naik a letter in which the mayor is requested to respond to "the allegations against him".
It is unclear whether the allegations are stipulated in the letter. Pretorius said Naik has until 18 May to respond and that it would be pre-empting the investigation to make any statement regarding the matter. The opposition parties did not fall for this and said they have not had any formal feedback regarding processes, nor have they been officially informed that a raid had taken place. Many councillors said they get their updates from the George Herald.
SAC Councillor Bazil Petrus said the absence of a mayoral address is totally unacceptable. "The public needs to know what is going on," he said. PBI Councillor Virgill Gericke said it cannot be "business as usual". "Somebody needs to give direction," he said. Laetitia Arries of the EFF said the acting mayor should have been allowed to speak, branding her "a puppet of the
DA". Wilbur Harris of Icosa said the DA had let a golden opportunity slip to inform the people. FF Plus Councillor Gert van Niekerk said they have to read about the latest developments in the newspapers. "To keep this away from councillors is a slap in the face," he said. ACDP Councillor
Johan du Toit said all councillors are being disregarded. "Only the DA caucus knows what is going on," he said.
Briefing the media after the council meeting was adjourned, the PBI, ANC, FF Plus, Icosa, and ACDP said the fact that Pretorius has not called an investigation into the allegations against Naik and Botha can land him in hot water.
Some of the items that were on yesterday's agenda include reports on the recruitment and selection for the appointment of directors in the departments of Electrotechnical and Corporate Services as well as Planning and Development. A late item on the possible suspension of the Municipal Manager, Trevor Botha, was withdrawn.
The atmosphere was jolly with lots of singing and dancing from the ANC councillors. MIDDLE: A late item on the possible suspension of Municipal Manager Trevor Botha was withdrawn. RIGHT: Acting Mayor Charlotte Clarke.
See more photos and a video at www.georgeherald.com George Speaker Gerrit Pretorius (left) adjourned yesterday’s meeting following a series of disruptions by the opposition parties. The municipality’s legal advisor, Johan van Schalkwyk, helped with...