PE Court clears Kouga Municipality of appointing directors illegally

Port Elizabeth High Court has dismissed with full costs the application by the Democratic Alliance (DA) that the appointment of five new directors at Kouga Municipality be declared unlawful.

Welcoming the judgment, Kouga Municipal Manager, Sidney Fadi, said the High Court decision made it clear the appointments were legal and that the incumbents had the necessary qualifications, skills and experience to head the institution.

The judgement followed claims by the DA last year that Kouga had broken the law when it appointed new directors Carlene Arends (Tourism, Creative Industries and Local Economic Development), Carlien Burger (Finance), Victor Felton (Infrastructure and Planning), Japie Jansen (Social Services) and Thobeka Tom (Administration, Monitoring and Evaluation) in August 2012.

Fadi said allegations made at the court case were based on misinformation fed to opposition councillors by disgruntled employees. “It is of serious concern that councillors – our leaders and the guardians of communities’ ethics – would allow themselves to be misused in this manner. It is of even greater concern that there are councillors who actually encourage officials to behave inappropriately.

“It is good to have confirmation from one of the highest courts of law that the right people have been appointed to take Kouga forward,” he said. “We are still a new team, but the experience has brought us closer together.

“We are grateful that we can now put this unpleasantness behind us and focus on unlocking the full potential of this institution and its staff.”

He said that three important matters had been highlighted during the case.

“Firstly, we were able to prove that all five directors had the relevant skills as required by section 56 (b) of the Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000,” he explained.

“Secondly, we were able to prove that the directors were not ‘deployed cadres’ as claimed by the DA.  None of them belong to a political party.

“Thirdly, we were able to prove that the DA had made misrepresentations to the MEC: Local Government about the appointments and about the manner in which this institution is run in general.”

He said the municipality had already forwarded a copy of the judgment to the MEC: Local Government.

“We have invited him to host one of the quarterly MuniMEC meetings (attended by all Mayors and MECs) in Kouga.  We would value the opportunity to sensitise the political leadership of our province to the challenges faced by municipalities such as Kouga,” he said.

“It is well known that our region faced many hardships last year. We had floods and then also the devastating fire at St Francis Bay.

“The court case, however, highlighted another type of hardship – a culture of political game-playing that has taken root at our municipality and is just as big a threat to the lives of our communities as a natural disaster would be.”

Fadi said that while the municipality would not be investigating the source of the misinformation in this instance, stricter measures would be put in place to prevent re-occurrences.

“Every official has the right to disclose corrupt activities. Such disclosure must, however, have substance and must be done responsibly,” he said. “Otherwise, it not only wastes the court’s time but also delays progress.”

(edited)

See first post on this court case:

https://stfrancischronicle.com/2012/10/01/kouga-municipality-rejects-claims-made-by-da/

 

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