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Minister Anton Bredell has expressed his disappointment and concern regarding the recent process followed by the Beaufort West Municipal Council to suspend the Municipal Manager, Director: Financial Services (CFO) and Director: Infrastructure Services.
“These suspensions come at a time when a mandatory Financial Recovery Plan (FRP), has been imposed on the Municipality by the Provincial Executive in accordance with section 139 of the Constitution. The provincial intervention was initiated due to the ongoing financial problems in the Municipality. The aim of the formal intervention is to end the financial crisis and aid the Municipality’s recovery and it has several mandatory legislated steps. The Municipality is the primary actor responsible for the FRP’s implementation, with the FRP containing specific and actionable financial, service delivery, institutional, and governance targets which the Municipality must achieve,” Bredell said.
The FRP mandates that, in order to ensure stability and the alignment of senior management changes to the implementation of the FRP, the appointment, suspension or any disciplinary action relating to senior managers should take place after consulting the Provincial Minister for Local Government. The Executive Mayor, Speaker and Municipal Council failed to comply with this legal obligation imposed by the FRP developed by the National Treasury.
“The Speaker’s belated attempt to afford me an opportunity to provide input into the vague allegations leveled against the senior managers, at an hour short of midnight ahead of the council meeting scheduled the next morning, is wholly insufficient for meaningful consultation by any standard. This represents a clear deviation from the Municipality’s obligations under the FRP,” Bredell said.
According to Bredell: “The actions taken by the Municipal Council to suspend the senior officials appear, on the face of it, to be procedurally defective and, as such, may stand to be reviewed and set aside by a court. The manner in which the suspensions were affected and the failure to meaningfully consult also did not allow for me and my Department to initiate any support measures to address capacity issues arising from the suspensions. This may, in turn, adversely impact on the ability of the Municipality to implement the FRP, going forward, and is likely to influence service delivery and good governance in the Municipality.”
Issued by Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning