Public protector finds Western Cape MEC Anton Bredell guilty of breaching Code of Ethics
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Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found Western Cape MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell guilty for breaching the Code of Ethics, following his failure to act against fraud and corruption, committed by officials of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, in March 2019.
Mkhwebane released the findings on Friday, following a complaint lodged by Good Party MPL Brett Herron
In his complaint, Herron alleged that on March 11, 2019, the former executive mayor of the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality Colan Sylvester alerted the MEC to several allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption, and financial misconduct, on the part of the municipality, and requested his assistance.
He said Bredell failed to act against the complaint until January 22, 2020, when Sylvester decided to act on his own against the culprits.
Herron told the Mkhwebane that Bredell, instead of acting on the allegations, he addressed DA councillors on December 12, 2019, and proposed that they should agree that the Western Cape provincial government places the municipality “under administration”.
According to evidence before Mkhwebane, the MEC allegedly said: “My suggestion is that we, that you, as Oudtshoorn Council because you’re the majority, you’re the council, you ask that we put you under administration’’ (sic).
In her ruling, Mkhwebane said it was clear, from the comments made at that meeting, that the MEC’s intention was to achieve political advantage for the DA, instead of acting in accordance with the constitutional imperative of assisting the municipality, as the MEC responsible for local government, in the Western Cape.
“The MEC’s proposal to the DA councillors of the municipality, that they should agree that the Western Cape provincial government places the municipality under administration, was improper and constitutes a direct conflict between his official responsibilities as the MEC responsible for local government, and his private interests as the Western Cape provincial chairperson of the DA at the time.
“The MEC’s failure or actions were improper and constituted a breach of the Executive Ethics Code,” Mkhwebane found.
She said MEC Bredell failed to take timeous appropriate action regarding allegations of improper conduct against officials of the municipality, when he was requested to do so by the former executive mayor, on March 11, 2019.
“The MEC only formally approached the speaker of the municipality and responded to the former executive mayor on January 22, 2020, 10 months after the serious allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption, and other malpractices, were brought to his attention.
“His first formal response to the serious allegations of misconduct and impropriety at the municipality – 10 months after having received the letter on March 11, 2019, from a person in the position of the executive mayor – does not indicate diligence and promptness on his part to attend thereto and, at least, to obtain more information or a response from the municipality to the serious allegations.
“Diligence and promptness were required of him, in terms of section 106 of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000, section 136 of the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act, 2003, and section 5 of the Western Cape Monitoring and Support of Municipalities Act, 2014, to attend to these matters,” Mkhwebane said.
Bredell says he will comment once he has Mkhwebane's report.