DA ousted from power in Oudtshoorn municipality
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CAPE TOWN - The DA has been dealt a heavy blow in Oudtshoorn after opposition parties removed it from power by booting Mayor Chris Macpherson and Speaker Julia le Roux-Krowitz in a vote of no confidence.
But the drama in the Karoo town is far from over, as the DA claims the special meeting called to oust the members was illegal.
As political tensions rise in anticipation of the upcoming local elections, councillor Vlancio Donson of the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa) was elected as mayor, with fellow Icosa councillor, Barbara Owen, elected as Speaker.
Donson said 12 DA councillors did not attend the meeting, leaving 13 councillors from Icosa, the South African Religious Civic Organisation (Sarco), the ANC and the EFF to elect a new leader.
He said that Le Roux-Krowitz could not attend the meeting due to health-related reasons, and MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell assigned O’niell to preside over the election of an interim speaker, on request of the municipality’s deputy mayor, councillor Gevan Juthe.
The DA said they decided not to attend the meeting, claiming it was illegal.
DA Constituency Head Eleanore Spies said: “At a time when local leaders have to focus on grassroot campaigning to get voters to place their trust in them for another term in council, it is despicable that the ANC, EFF, SARCO and Icosa would use this time to deceitfully take over a council.
“These items go directly against a court order that was issued. Adding to their corrupt agenda, the topic of replacing the acting Municipal Manager with an outsider, a person who is currently under investigation for a fraud and corruption case, was also pushed through. This happens when the tail wants to wag the dog.
“We know that the voters of Oudtshoorn will not allow the town to be dumped into a financial burden with debt ranging in the millions, similarly to what happened before the DA took over in 2016.”
But Donson maintained the meeting was not illegal, saying they alerted the Speaker who refused the meeting, citing health reasons.
“The Speaker said she was sick and she will postpone the meeting because the DA told her to do so in their caucus meeting.
“After the Speaker said ‘no’ we spoke to the minister (Anton Bredell), the minister sent somebody to sit there and so if the meeting was illegal then minister Anton Bredell was also part of this illegal activity,” he said.
Bredell said he was gathering all the information around the meeting and appointment and he will respond in due course.
Donson they ousted Macpherson because he acted like a ‘dictator’, and interfered with the administration of the municipality and the way they handled Covid-19.
Macpherson refuted this, saying he was not part of decision making.
“We have what we call a joint operations centre that deals with all Covid issues, a mayor or neither my staff has any influence on that.
“They came up with the motion and they couldn’t find anything so now they are fabricating something to say that this is the reason for the motion of no confidence.
“Why is this sudden urge of motion of no confidence, is it because I refused to open the wallet so that we can keep on spending as it has been in the past?
“Five years ago when they were still in power they nearly made this municipality bankrupt in a short period,” he said.
EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said it was a “victory” to dethrone the DA-led administration.
“The power used by the opposition to unseat and correct the wrongs experienced by the people of Oudtshoorn is a sign of what is in not so distant future.
“We welcome the removal of this monstrous regime, hopefully that voters will not reverse these gains that were hard earned.
“Looking forward to the incoming administration to make a significant impact in the people's lives. There's no little time to make changes. The people are waiting in anticipation and delivery of services is a compulsory obligation of any government,“ he said. The ANC said it will respond on Monday.