Reshuffle riles locals

2016-11-30 09:09
JP Smith

JP Smith

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Local crimefighters have raised their concerns about a proposal to move the City’s Mayco member for safety and security, JP Smith, from his portfolio.

News that Smith may be moved to a “lower post” has sent tongues wagging in recent months as many have accused mayor Patricia de Lille of not taking into consideration the implications for communities that have formed close bonds with Smith in his work to uplift local neighbourhood watches in the fight against crime.

In a statement made by De Lille in August, she raises the Organisation Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) which she says is a legislative requirement when considering the requirements of local government legislation and regulations, specifically the Municipal Structures Act and the Municipal Systems Act.

For several months now, rumours have swirled that as part of the ODTP, there would be a merging of portfolios which would lead to the safety and security and social development portfolios being managed by one Mayco member.

He will be a huge loss to the City
David Harris

According to DA insiders, this also means that Smith will be replaced. This has resulted in strong public opinions including the creation of petitions and Facebook pages by the public advocating on his behalf.

The Table View and Milnerton Community Police Forums (CPFs) have made their voices heard on the matter. When TygerBurger questioned what residents thought on the matter on social media and Table View CPF chairperson, David Harris, said the proposal is a huge blow to the people of Cape Town. “I don’t believe he has gotten into his stride yet and has a huge contribution still to make in safety and security. He will be a huge loss to the City.”

Speaking to TygerBurger last week, Harris further says: “Smith has made an extraordinary contribution to safety and security in Cape Town and it would be an extremely sad day if he was moved from his position”.

Milnerton CPF chairperson, Lianne Lippert, says while the Milnerton precinct has not received much personal attention by Smith, they were concerned about fellow CPFs and neighbourhood watches in high crime areas such as Manenberg and Hanover Park.

“Look, he hasn’t personally been very active in Milnerton, but we do get support from his staff when required. He runs one of the most successful portfolios and look at all he has done for people in Manenberg and Hanover Park, actually giving up his personal time to patrol at night with them.”

Ursula Marshall of the Phoenix Neighbourhood Watch says Smith is the most dedicated official she has seen. “He sacrifices his personal life in the fight against crime to spend as much time as possible with communities who need the police. We respect you, Alderman!”

TygerBurger has investigated allegations with inside sources confirming that De Lille has personal problems with Smith and is using the ODTP and the merging of portfolios to oust him.

According to various DA insiders it all started over a disagreement in a caucus meeting and, insiders claim, Smith being “too vocal” got him “into trouble”.

In addition they claim there is a ploy by the mayor to place former ID friends and politicians in powerful positions and the “axing of Smith was linked to this”. They told TygerBurger the mayor was “destroying the man and his department that he built”. In addition they accuse her of “putting petty politics ahead of progress”. According to De Lille’s spokesperson, Pierrinne Leukes, as of 1 January 2017, all Mayco members will be receiving new portfolios in order to accommodate the new directorates in terms of the ODTP.

These changes, she says, will be communicated in due course, as noted in previous communication. Leukes says the new breakdown includes four area-based Mayco members, one for transport and urban development, one for assets and facilities management, one for corporate services and one for finance. She adds there will be one Mayco member for the directorates of informal settlements, water and waste services and energy and one for social services and safety and security.

Just because you have decided to write a gossipy story, doesn’t mean you get to demand information before it gets announced
Pierrinne Leukes

“This brings the total Mayco members to 10. The deputy mayor [Ian Neilson] previously also had a portfolio (Finance) but he will be supporting the mayor in her executive functions. There will therefore be the same amount of Mayco members as before. This is being done to support the transversal management of the City,” she says. TygerBurger submitted several very specific questions about Smith’s position specifically, and the allegations against the mayor, when Leukes did not answer some of the questions that were sent back.

In an email, she wrote: “Firstly, every single person you make reference to is a DA member, including the mayor. The ID no longer exists and so there are no ID members. Secondly, when there is a reshuffle, we will communicate it accordingly. The mayor has mentioned the reshuffle according to the transformation plan, as early as August during her council speech. When it happens you will know. Just because you have decided to write a gossipy story, doesn’t mean you get to demand information before it gets announced.

“Thirdly, we feel that the response below does answer all your questions. So should you ‘merely state she refuses to answer’, we will be taking it up with your editor and the Ombudsman”.

TygerBurger, however, has spoken to various sources inside the DA who only agreed to speak if their names were not published, who claim the allegations are true.

Asked to comment, Smith says the ODTP “as a whole” has many objectives for the entire city but had garnered strong opinions. He declined to comment on the allegations against the mayor.

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