Dyantyi orders fresh probe against Badih
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By Lindsay Dentlinger
City councillor Badih Chaaban has been given a second chance to defend allegations of bribery and intimidation levelled against him by his peers, this time by Local Government MEC Richard Dyantyi.
Dyantyi will also order a fresh probe by a person appointed by himself to investigate allegations of breach of code of conduct against Chaaban and to recommend appropriate action.
These decisions, conveyed by Dyantyi to Chaaban in a letter on Thursday, fly in the face of the city council's disciplinary committee which has already spent thousands of rands investigating Chaaban's alleged misconduct.
The eagerness to prove the allegations against Chaaban has landed the DA-administration in hot water over allegations of spying on Chaaban and other councillors of its coalition partners.
Further stalling a decision by Dyantyi to endorse a recommendation from the council two weeks ago that Chaaban be expelled, on Wednesday Dyantyi also ordered the city manager, Achmat Ebrahim, to provide him with more extensive information regarding the investigation.
Dyantyi said he was giving Chaaban this leeway in accordance with the rules of natural justice and to allow him to apply his mind to all the relevant facts in the matter.
In terms of the Municipal Systems Act, the final decision to expel a councillor rests with the MEC.
Upon receiving Dyantyi's letter, Chaaban welcomed Dyantyi's decision, saying it was his minimum requirement for justice.
"I'm very, very relieved. It is all I wanted from day one. How could I have my political opponents try me? The minister's decision pleases me and shows democracy at work."
The council endorsed the recommendation of the disciplinary committee at the end of October, after the committee said it had no choice but to suggest the harshest punishment against Chaaban.
Chaaban had walked out barely an hour into the three-day disciplinary hearing, saying he would not be afforded a fair trial.