Mkhwebane report: Winde, Bredell 'breached executive ethics code'

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Alan Winde. (Photo: Malherbe Nienaber)
Alan Winde. (Photo: Malherbe Nienaber)
  • The Public Protector concluded Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his MEC Anton Bredell breached the executive ethics code.
  • Her report followed a complaint over issues at the Oudtshoorn local municipality.
  • Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report also revealed that Bredell failed to take timeous, appropriate action.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that both Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his MEC Anton Bredell were in breach of the executive ethics code over their handling of issues at the Oudtshoorn local municipality.

On Friday, Mkhwebane's report responded to complaints laid by GOOD member of the provincial legislature (MPL), Brett Herron.

Last June, Herron lodged a complaint that the former executive mayor of the Oudtshoorn municipality, Colan Sylvester, on 11 March 2019, alerted the Western Cape MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, Anton Bredell, to several allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption and financial misconduct on the part of the municipality. He then requested Bredell's assistance on the matter.

However, Bredell only responded to the letter on 22 January 2020, which was 10 months after the allegations were brought to his attention.

READ | MEC Anton Bredell rubbishes Brett Herron's claim he tried to 'capture' Oudtshoorn, demands apology

Herron claimed that, on 12 December 2019, Bredell addressed the municipality's DA councillors - and proposed they should agree that the Western Cape government place the municipality "under administration".

Sylvester, the former mayor, on 6 March 2020, allegedly wrote a letter to Winde, in connection with the conduct of Bredell.

According to Herron, Winde was obligated to "conduct an enquiry in terms of section 2.2 [sic] of the Executive Ethics Code, taking into account the promotion of an open, democratic and accountable government".

In her report, Mkhwebane said some of the allegations against Winde were not substantiated.

"We found the allegation that the premier failed to act on the allegations against the MEC, contained in the letter addressed to him by the former executive mayor of the municipality, was not substantiated.

"The same allegations became the subject of an investigation by the Public Protector, in terms of the Executive Members' Ethics Act, when a complaint of a breach of the Executive Ethics Code was lodged on 2 July 2020. I will deal with that matter shortly," she said.

ALSO READ | Oudtshoorn mayor put on special leave, pending DA probe into his conduct

Mkhwebane said they found the statements made by the premier to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 23 June 2020, in connection with the proposal made by Bredell to DA councillors of the municipality on 12 December 2019, that they should agree the municipality be placed under administration, were improper. 

Winde's statement to the portfolio committee, supporting the conduct of the MEC, were not in accordance with the Constitution and legislation regulating the intervention by a provincial government in a municipality, as well as the practice of political negotiation and agreement as submitted by him. 

Mkhwebane said:

His statements were, therefore, not in the best interest of good governance and not consistent with what is expected of a person in the position of a premier. He, therefore, acted in breach of section 136(2) (b) of the Constitution and paragraphs 2.1(c) and (d), and 2.3(c) of the Executive Ethics Code.

To remedy the breach, Mkhwebane said the president must, in terms of section 3(5)(2)(b) of the Executive Members' Ethics Act, submit a copy of the report and any comments thereon to the National Council of Provinces within a reasonable time, but not later than 14 days after receiving the report.

Winde's spokesperson, Cayla Murray, said Winde had not seen the Public Protector's report. He had only learnt of its content via the media. 

"Once it has been received by his office, it will be considered, and only then determine a way forward," she added.

Meanwhile, the Public Protector found that Bredell failed to take timeous, appropriate action in connection with the allegations of improper conduct against officials of the municipality, when he was requested to do so by the former executive mayor on 11 March 2019. 

"To remedy this breach of the Executive Code of Ethics, the premier of the Western Cape must, in terms of section 3(6) of the Executive Members' Ethics Act, within a reasonable time, but no later than 14 days after receiving this report, submit a copy thereof and any comments thereon, together with a report on any action taken or to be taken in regard thereto, to the Western Cape Provincial Legislature," Mkhwebane said.

Bredell's spokesperson, James-Brent Styan, said they had not received the report, and they could not comment on a document not yet seen.

"We find the timing and the release of her decision in a statement to the media interesting. This happened without alerting us or providing us with the report," added Styan.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that the public protector made adverse findings against both Winde and Bredell.

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