Tarr: opposition win first round

2013-09-26 00:00

THE opposition parties in Msunduzi Municipality won the first round to have ANC councillor Mike Tarr withdraw his private member’s motion against DA councillor Mergan Chetty.

However, Speaker Babu Baijoo has seven days to make a ruling on whether his office will investigate Chetty for making allegations about council affairs in the media earlier this month.

Yesterday’s sitting of the full council debated the issue, and agreed that the Speaker’s office look into the matter as raised by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee chairperson and former mayor 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.

The Witness reported previously that Tarr wanted an ad-hoc disciplinary committee, comprising representatives of all political parties, to investigate Chetty’s comments.

DA caucus leader Bill Lambert told the Speaker that by allowing the motion he would be bringing the council into disrepute.

“I am probably the longest serving councillor in KZN, having joined in the nominated phase, and in all my years of experience I have never seen such a motion as is before us now,” he said.

Lambert said he would have thought that Tarr with all his experience would have had the expertise to understand the seriousness of “his motion of intimidation”.

“I am also perplexed Mr Speaker that with your known respected ability you have allowed this to appear in your agenda,” he said.

Lambert further said if the Speaker referred to his own job description he (the Speaker) would see that his main function was to preside over the affairs of the council in an impartial manner and to act in the best interest of the council.

“You have Sir vested in you the power and authority to investigate such issues,” he said.

Lambert said this motion was tantamount to gagging — “our own sort of Secrecy Bill — we all know what President Zuma has done with the other one”.

He proposed that the matter be withdrawn and be dealt with by the Speaker.

The IFP caucus leader, Dolo Zondi also supported the DA’s call to have the motion withdrawn.

Chetty also pointed out the motion should be struck off the agenda because it was procedurally flawed.

Tarr withdrew the motion and stressed that he did not want a debate because that might have influenced the ad-hoc disciplinary committee.

The Speaker, Baijoo, said Chetty was in possible breach of the councillors’ code of conduct when he commented to the media on the R1.2 billion tender for fibre optic cables to be installed in the city because he was investigating the matter.

He also said that Chetty’s allegations that the council was heading towards administration was “a scare tactic and misleading”.

“We all agree I don’t care which political party you belong to but this council is not heading to administration,” he said.

Baijoo said he believed that Chetty was in breach of the code of conduct but this will form part of the investigation he could conduct.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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