Stellenbosch mayor stripped of powers
STELLENBOSCH’S mayor and deputy mayor have been stripped of their powers after they earlier suspended the town’s municipal manager apparently for blowing the whistle on corrupt politicians.
The full council voted yesterday to strip Mayor Patrick Swartz and Deputy Mayor Cameron Mcako of their powers, and to reinstate manager Ian Kenned.
This means Stellenbosch’s two top politicians have been left with no decision-making authority, according to DA councillor Dawid Botha.
The council’s speaker, Gordon Pheiffer, confirmed to Weekend Argus that one of the politicans originally accused of corruption was Mcako. Others, including administrative staff, were also implicated.
Mcako is denying the allegations, saying he is willing to go to court to clear his name.
The storm revolves around applications for a municipal tender, and municipal manager Kenned’s concern about possible irregularities relating to it.
After Kenned voiced his concern, he was suspended by the Swartz.
On October 26, Kayamandi businessman and builder Thomas Mpela laid a charge of corruption against Mcako at the Stellenbosch police station. Police spokesman Inspector November Filander con- firmed a charge had been laid, but declined to say against whom or give any details because of the “sensitivity of the case”.
Three days later Pheiffer met Mpela to hear his claims, and the following day, October 30, he put Mpela’s allegations to Mcako.
“The deputy mayor has 14 days to respond,” he said. “In his response he might mention other people, but that remains to be seen.” The 14 days are up next Friday. At yesterday’s council meeting both the DA and the ANC agreed the mayor’s decision to place Kenned on “special leave” had been unlawful.
Speaking on behalf of the ANC, Andre Gaum said the party had not been consulted about Kenned’s suspension.
Gaum also said the resolution to withdraw Swartz and Mcako’s powers had been done to enable the council to reinstate Kenned.
“Their powers are not yet reinstated, but it is not a permanent arrangement. The council will once again delegate these powers in the near future.”
But the DA’s Dawid Botha said the mayor and deputy mayor’s powers could be restored only if the council allowed it and the DA would not vote in favour of this.
“The DA has already served a motion with the speaker for the total removal of the mayor and deputy mayor from council,” he said.
“The DA wants a full forensic audit of all tender processes during the time of office of the two now disempowered office bearers of the ANC coalition since April 2008.”
Gaum recognised the corruption accusations against politicians in the ANC-led council, but said the law had to take its course. “It must also be said that if there is proof of corruption, it will not be tolerated by the ANC.”
Mpela told Weekend Argus he feared for his life and had gone into hiding. He was no longer living in Stellenbosch.
Mcako acknowledged that he had known Mpela for a couple of months, but denied any involvement in corruption.
He said councillors were not involved in selecting winning tenders, and that he could therefore not have been involved in corruption in any way.
“I have hired a lawyer, who is pressuring the state to put charges against me,” Mcako said. “I want a chance to go to court so that I can clear my name.”
He said he would also sue Mpela for defamation of character.
Meanwhile, Kenned, according to the minutes of the audit committee meeting, feared for his safety and that of his family because he had received death threats.
ACCUSED: Deputy mayor Cameron Mcako.
HEARD CLAIMS: Speaker of the municipality Gordon Pheiffer.
REINSTATED: Municipal manager Ian Kenned.