Chaos at Oudtshoorn council meeting

2015-07-02 09:01
Pravin Gordhan. (GCIS)

Pravin Gordhan. (GCIS)

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Oudtshoorn - The national department of co-operative governance and the Western Cape local government department have to step in again to sort out issues in Oudtshoorn after a municipal council meeting descended into chaos earlier this week.

The council was unable to pass its 2015/16 budget before midnight on Tuesday, which was a violation of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

"Chaos erupted after the budget was not decided upon,” the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) said.

"Council members were held hostage by a group of people for two hours."

Cogta Minister Pravin Gordhan and Western Cape local government MEC Anton Bredell condemned the incident.

According to Eyewitness News police were called in to intervene.

Councillor slapped

The municipality's spokesperson Ntobeko Manqweqwe told the broadcaster that councillors were threatened with physical harm and one of them was slapped.

Angry residents were said to have held councillors and officials hostage in council chambers on Tuesday night.

It was believed that a group of about 50 people, who were in the public gallery, were upset because municipal officials failed to approve a budget.

Cogta said this was the third time the municipal council had failed to decide on the financial plan because councillors were unhappy with the municipal manager and council leadership.

"Minister Gordhan and the MEC responsible for local government in the Western Cape, Mr Bredell, have engaged with the municipality on the challenges facing it and also proposed a 'Support and Good Governance' package, which the municipality has failed to adopt.

"Further steps are now being considered in order to regularise the functionality of the municipality," Cogta said.

Reports ‘concerning’

Bredell said he has written to the municipality asking for formal confirmation of the status of the budget.

He said reports of what happened in the council meeting were concerning.

"I will at all times deal with any situation in Oudtshoorn, within the legal framework guiding local government.

"I remain committed to resolving the ongoing instability in the Oudtshoorn council," Bredell said.

In May this year, the Democratic Alliance complained when the African National Congress-led coalition refused to vacate the office after the opposition party won the by-election in the area.

DA Western Cape leader Patricia De Lille at the time wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma about the behaviour of ANC councillors in the municipality.

Last year, 12 DA councillors and one Cope councillor were expelled by the local municipality.

The councillors turned to the courts, and the Western Cape High Court overturned the expulsions.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  pravin gordan  |  anton bredell  |  george  |  local government  |  politics

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