Oudtshoorn municipal manager Allen Paulse and mayor Colan Sylvester (right). Picture: Supplied
Cape Town – Oudtshoorn mayor Colan Sylvester has been placed on special leave and barred from all party and official duties pending an investigation by the DA’s federal legal commission into certain of his actions as mayor.

He confirmed that he was given 24 hours to respond to the DA federal executive offer to take six weeks’ special leave or face suspension.

Sylvester said the DA’s federal council deputy chairperson Natasha Mazzone had informed him via an email to either take six weeks’ special leave or face a suspension while they investigated allegations against him.

“The party has yet to provide me with terms of reference, so I am unclear as to what the allegations are against me. 

"I find it ironic that the leadership would take such strong action against me when no action was taken against the council’s speaker, Julia le Roux Krowitz, who had almost caused the municipality to be placed under administration for failing to hold a council meeting for four months in order to pass a budget.

“Neither has any action been taken against the municipal manager, Allen Paulse, to whom I have brought evidence of financial irregularities to the office of the MEC for Local Government. It seems the party protects certain members and selectively takes strict action against those members they deem are deserving,” said Sylvester.

Sylvester said he was contacted by the party’s federal leadership in July to withdraw the suspension of Paulse from the agenda of the DA caucus and council meetings pending an investigation into the situation in Oudtshoorn.

He said he was following procedure by suspending Paulse because of the “overwhelming evidence” and considering the lack of response from Local Government MEC Anton Bredell to investigate the matter.

The ANC in the region said the collapsing relationship between DA caucus and its management was the result of the party’s desperate attempts to cover its tracks in failing to serve the community of greater Oudtshoorn.

“I confirm that the mayor is on a special leave for six weeks while the DA federal legal commission conducts an investigation. 

"I cannot disclose the scope of the investigation as this would prejudice both Councillor Sylvester and the investigation,” said Mazzone.

Head of the local government department Graham Paulse said: “We take these allegations seriously; however, we have checked with the minister’s office... and gone through ... records and there is no evidence that the MEC received these complaints.

“Any person with any evidence or concerns relating to illegality at municipal level is encouraged to report such to the nearest police station.

Deputy mayor Noluthando Mwati is acting as mayor as of Tuesday until further notice.

Cape Times