"The authors of this 106 report must be here when we discuss it so that if clarity is needed, we can get answers to our questions.”
AS THE Sol Plaatje City Council once again put off discussing the Section 106 report on Friday, councillors accused the media of inaccuracy, stating that the newspapers “think the council doesn’t want to discuss the report”.
In a majority vote, following a heated discussion which collapsed into a shouting match – to the point where the city’s executive mayor, Patrick Mabilo, had to remind councillors to respect the integrity of the house and remember that members of the public were present – it was agreed that the advocate from Coghsta, who drew up the Section 106 report, should be present when the matter was discussed.
“The newspapers think we do not want to discuss the report,” ANC councillor Ronnie Morwe said. “They are very dangerous because they are never accurate. They once reported that someone saved a fish from drowning and that someone ran away after committing suicide.”
His fellow councillors pointed out that the Sol Plaatje City Council could sue and could be sued in return. “Once we engage and take a decision, we must at some point stand before the courts and clarify ourselves. The authors of this 106 report must be here when we discuss it so that if clarity is needed, we can get answers to our questions.”
It was also pointed out that the issue was creating instability in the municipality because of the suspension of the municipal manager and the CFO.
“This document, however, involves them. As it stands now we are not ready to go to court – we must be ready and prepared. Therefore, the author of the document must be present to answer any questions and also to point out any legalities regarding matters that might be sub judice.
“We need guidance on what the courts said so that we are not misrepresented. We need people here who can guide us and give us responses,” councillors stated.
It was stated further that councillors might find themselves indicted to appear in court because they had discussed matters that were sub judice.
Morwe added that the ANC agreed in principle that council should discuss the report.
“The advocate of the legislature was here because he knows that there are issues he needs to explain. We need to again request that the advocate be present so that if we have a question, the author of the report is here and we can engage with him – even if it is tomorrow or the next day.”
He said that, for example, it was stated in the report that the EPWP workers were used to distribute information pamphlets regarding the electricity tariffs. “We have no proof of that because the person who compiled the report is not here.”
The DA and the EFF, however, called for the report to be discussed at Friday’s meeting as scheduled.
“Coghsta did a presentation on the executive summary and gave its recommendations. We received the full report in November last year and there is no reason for any councillor not to have gone through the report,” DA councillor Chris Phiri pointed out.
He also questioned why the Sol Plaatje Municipality, as the first respondent in the high court interdict obtained by the suspended CFO, Lydia Mahloko, had not applied for a review.
“The residents of Kimberley are carrying the brunt of this because they are responsible for the costs of the salaries being paid to the suspended officials.”
He added that the DA was firm on its stance “that it accepts that the ANC does not want to discuss the report”.
He also stated that in terms of the court application, it was agreed that the report could be discussed pending the finalisation of the review application. “As council, we do not have the review application. It was never submitted to us so we are in effect being held hostage over a piece of paper that is incomplete.”
Fellow DA councillor Phillip Vorster warned that both the municipal manager and the CFO would put in a claim for damages against the municipality.
“They are sitting at home, although they are in full employ of the municipality, because a disciplinary hearing and inquiry was never done.”
He added that since last year, the council had refused to discuss the Section 106 report supposedly because the interdict prevented the council from doing so.
He pointed out, however, that the interdict was never against the council discussing the report but only prevented it from taking action against the CFO.
“For the last six to eight months we have been asking for the interdict.”