Bitter aftertaste to their victory chalice
DA launches review of councillors’ successful appeal
“It’s amazing, we’ve been vindicated. All sanctions have been rescinded.” These were the words of an elated Knysna councillor Peter Myers in reaction to the successful appeal by himself and mayor Mark Willemse to overturn a ruling by a disciplinary panel that found them guilty of misconduct and handed suspended sentences of membership termination.
The two councillors were informed by the DA last week that all charges against them have been dismissed.
But the celebratory drink came with a bit of a bitter aftertaste when the DA surprisingly announced that it would take its own decision under review.
The original panel had found the two councillors guilty of misconduct for “voting with their consciences” to remove former mayor Eleanore BouwSpies.
The appeal panel rescinded all sanctions against the two councillors, which included that Willemse resign as mayor and Myers be removed from the mayoral committee. “This puts behind us a long and difficult ordeal and we believe the right outcome was ultimately arrived at,” a jubilant Myers said after hearing the news. “The appeal panel was properly constituted. They had the expertise, they had the knowledge, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”
‘I’m still here as mayor’
Willemse had a similar reaction, but added that he was waiting for the DA leadership to communicate with him on the way forward, while the party’s mayoral candidate Michelle Wasserman was still waiting in the wings.
“I haven’t resigned, I’m still here,” said Willemse.
In the interim, James Selfe, the party’s federal council chair, released a statement that the DA notes the outcomes of the Federal Legal Commission (FLC) process in the matter relating to the two DA councillors but that “the appeal was upheld by the FLC on procedural grounds”.
“This FLC outcome did not however reflect the merits of the matter and we are consulting the party lawyers with the view of taking the FLC decision on review. Further information will be communicated in due course,” reads the statement from Selfe.
Willemse said that this was difficult to understand, calling it “disingenuous” as it means the DA would take their own decision on review, “which doesn’t make any sense”.
“In our opinion the appeal was upheld on factual grounds, not just procedural grounds. Any decision for review will not take Knysna forward. We need to have conclusive meetings to put this matter to rest,” said Willemse.