Stel­len­bosch mayor stripped of pow­ers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LEILA SAMODIEN

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.

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