Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Provincial Leader
The Democratic Alliance would like to set the record straight with regards to the situation at the Nama Khoi municipality. This, especially as the MEC of Coghsta, Alvin Botes, is attempting to attribute everything that has gone wrong in this municipality to the DA/Cope coalition government. This, we believe, is a desperate attempt at politicking in order to gain favour for the embattled ANC before next year’s election.
The truth of the matter is that the DA/Cope coalition government of Nama Khoi inherited a number of problems when they took over the municipality from the ANC in 2011. In other words, the ANC is by no means squeaky clean, as they are trying to make out. In fact, one only has to look at the results of the Auditor-General’s latest reports, whereby not a single ANC governed municipality in the province managed to achieve a clean audit report, to see how poorly ANC municipalities are really governed. With specific reference to Nama Khoi, it must also be stressed that, of the R56 million worth of irregular and unauthorized expenditure currently being to alluded to by the MEC, a total of R28,5 million of this was actually incurred in the 2010/2011 financial year, when the ANC was still governing the Nama Khoi municipality. In fact, the DA called for a forensic investigation into this municipality when we came into power, however, it was never done. Hence, the DA/Cope coalition should not have to take the blame for the entire financial mess in this municipality. At the same time, the DA strongly condemns the irregular expenditure that was accrued by this municipality. The DA feels strongly that those responsible for this irregular expenditure, regardless of whether they are affiliated to the ANC, DA or Cope, must be brought to book and we will give our full cooperation in this regard.
With the regards to the Nama Khoi court case, the DA would like to state that we respect the rule of law and we will adhere to court outcomes and processes. We will not, however, be manipulated by the ANC, who is trying to create the impression that we are failing to accept the ANC’s by-election victory in Nama Khoi and, in turn, obstructing the course of justice and standing in the way of the people of Namaqualand receiving local government services.
The truth is that it was out of desperation that the Speaker, Joshua Losper, suspended the ANC councillors who were not attending council meetings. Their absence was having a detrimental effect on rolling out service delivery programmes, as council meetings could not sit and decisions could not be taken due to there not being a quorum. The speaker even requested intervention with regard to the respective councillor’s truancy from the then MEC of COGHSTA. However, no assistance was ever granted. It is against this backdrop that the Speaker then suspended the councillors. Hence, the suspension of these councilors was not a political ploy to keep the DA/Cope government in power. Instead, it was an attempt to discipline truant councillors who were not doing their jobs that they are getting paid to do, and it was an attempt to get the council running effectively and efficiently.
With reference to the municipal manager not having the necessary qualifications, we are aware of this and acknowledge that this was a failure on the part of the DA/Cope coalition. At the same time, it must be said that we only entered into a one year contract with him, whereby it was stipulated that he had to accrue the necessary qualifications by the end of his first year. This was in line with the implementation of the new Municipal Systems Amendment Act, which permitted this practice. To date, however Mr Baartman has not achieved the necessary qualifications and this is not acceptable. This said, the DA is of the view that firm action must be taken against him.
It is regrettable what transpired in Nama Khoi municipality. This is not a true reflection of what the DA stands for, and one only has to look to the Western Cape to see this. Nonetheless, mistakes were made in Nama Khoi and lessons have been learnt by all. The DA would like to urge supporters not to lose faith in the DA. Where the DA governs in the rest of the country, we have a track record of improving government services. We will do the same in the Northern Cape and past mistakes will not be repeated.