Chetty’s ‘defamatory’ letter to the press to be debated by full council

2013-09-24 00:00

IS Democratic Alliance councillor Mergan Chetty deliberately tarnishing the names of the Msunduzi municipality and council — as the ANC believes — or is the ANC trying to gag him from exposing the truth about the state of the municipality — as the DA believes?

Tomorrow’s sitting of the full council will be called on to debate the issue, when councillors will be asked to adopt a private member’s motion tabled by Municipal Public Accounts Committee chairperson and former mayor Mike Tarr.

At issue is a letter Chetty recently wrote to a newspaper, which alleges among other things that Msunduzi could be placed under administration again.

Tarr wants an ad-hoc disciplinary committee, comprising representatives of all political parties, to investigate Chetty’s comments.

“I am not accusing Chetty of anything, but we simply want him to substantiate his claims to the media about the state of the municipality.

“In the event that Chetty is unable to substantiate his claims, then appropriate steps must be taken to remove Chetty from council.”

In his letter to Speaker Babu Baijoo, Tarr says he believes the letter is intended to reflect badly on Msunduzi and brings its council into disrepute. “Many allegations in the letter relating to nepotism, the awarding of tenders and the prospect of again being placed under administration are simply not true,” said Tarr.

“It is not appropriate for a serving member of council and the executive committee to make wild unsubstantiated statements to the press,” he added.

Tarr said that making insinuations about the integrity of his fellow Exco members is totally at odds with the creation of a harmonious working relationship that the council is currently striving for.

Baijoo said he could not comment on the matter because it was going to be discussed at the full council meeting tomorrow.

But the DA has described Tarr’s move as an ANC witch-hunt.

Chetty, the DA’s spokesperson on the Msunduzi budget, said the party would not bow down to the ANC’s “bully tactics” in their attempt to discipline and then possibly expel him at tomorrow’s sitting.

“As a public representative of the DA, I’m well within my rights to exercise effective oversight in Msunduzi,” he said.

Chetty said Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube had stated on numerous occasions that certain municipalities had failed residents due to a lack of effective oversight.

“It is, therefore, highly hypocritical of Tarr and his party to attempt to silence the opposition when freedom of expression is a constitutional right for all citizens,” he said.

Chetty said all the statements he had made in the letter merely re-iterated what was discussed at council meetings and had already been reported in the media.

The comments reinforced the DA’s opposition to:

• The R1,2 billion fibre optic network proposed for the city;

• The proposed 10% increase in electricity tariffs, which the National Energy Regulator of South Africa has now refused;

• The R1,2 million spent on the council publication Msunduzi News;

• The apparently flawed current budget;

• The multimillion-rand Panzascore parking meter system; and

• The municipality’s employment of ANC Exco councillors’ daughters.

He said the DA would not be deterred and would continue to speak out against the misuse of city funds.

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