Saldanha mayor Marius Koen. Picture: Marius Koen/Facebook
Saldanha mayor Marius Koen. Picture: Marius Koen/Facebook

Investigation of Saldanha mayor Marius Koen’s qualifications under way

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published May 4, 2021

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Cape Town - The chairperson of the DA’s Federal Council, Helen Zille, has referred the investigation into the qualifications of Saldanha mayor Marius Koen to the party’s federal legal commission for investigation and deliberation.

This comes after the EFF recently flagged that Koen had misrepresented his qualifications.

Last week, Bonginkosi Madikizela submitted his resignation as both DA Western Cape leader and Transport and Public Works MEC.

He had been suspended amid claims that he had lied about his qualifications, which he previously denied.

Prior to his resignation, Madikizela said his suspension from the party and the provincial Cabinet over the misrepresentation of his qualifications had “everything to do with the Cape Town mayorship contest”.

He also took to social media last month to express his views on his political woes and asked for forgiveness. He stated that the scandal over his qualifications had nothing to do with a noble act, but everything to do with the mayoral contest.

Shortly after Madikizela’s revelation, DA chief whip Natasha Mazonne came under fire for her qualifications. She said: “I do not have a post-matric qualification. I completed the Legal Education Development Training course, and I completed my articles at Hahn & Hahn Attorneys. I have no degree.”

The spotlight briefly turned on the qualifications of MEC for Human Settlements Tertius Simmers. But the opposition party’s national spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube, said the questions over Simmers’ qualifications had been disproved, because the LinkedIn page in question was found to be fake.

“Where there have been allegations of wrongdoing or misrepresentation of one’s qualifications, the party has acted to investigate. Our focus now is ensuring that we take our message to the people of South Africa on how we intend on changing the face of local governments where we govern.”

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said qualifications were very important when one considered the functions that have to be performed by Members of Parliament, as well as members of the Cabinet.

However, he also indicated that the need to hold degrees was debatable.

“Many MPs and members of cabinet rely on advisers a lot, and sometimes you find that they are misled by the very advisers. I’m of the opinion that it would be great if MPs can have at least one minimum qualification and understanding of the law to make sound judgement. Sometimes, politicians feel very strongly about their position which they want to enforce,” he said.

He added: “The Constitution is the supreme law of the country, and when people are not qualified, they may even undermine the Constitution itself. I remember at some point there was a discussion with the ruling party about what comes first … is it the ANC that comes first or is it the country? I remember at some point former president Jacob Zuma said in his view the party comes first. If you have studied constitutional law or attended a workshop surrounding constitutional law, you will realise that there is nothing that comes above the Constitution. The reality is for one to make laws or come up with a bill, one needs to have a background concerning law.”

Makaneta maintained that although he doesn’t want to seem harsh on those who don’t have post-matric qualifications, a degree on its own doesn’t guarantee that a person is an expert in a specific field.

“There are people who may have degrees, but they don’t have the necessary capacity to fulfil certain responsibilities.”

He said he studied with Mazonne and confirmed that she studied law at the University of Pretoria, but never completed it.

“I was fortunate enough to have studied with her. Sometimes, you find people who don’t have the degree, but they have the background. They are knowledgeable and certificated. It’s quite a debatable issue,” he said.

Attempts to contact Koen were unsuccessful.

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Political Bureau

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