Matzikama ordered to comply with investigation
The Western Cape High Court has ordered the Matzikama Local Municipality to comply with an ongoing investigation into maladministration, fraud and corruption at the municipality. The Matzikama Municipality includes the towns of Vredendal, Vanrhynsdorp, Klawer and Lutzville and is a council controlled by the ANC.
Anton Bredell, the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, has welcomed the decision set down by acting judge Selwyn Hockey yesterday.
“This investigation is in the best interests of the people of Matzikama and if there has been any wrongdoing then justice must be served. I am calling on the council of Matzikama to work with the independent investigators in ensuring the matter can be completed as soon as possible.”
The matter dates back to 2019 when the Minister received complaints of maladministration and serious malpractice relating to the Matzikama council.
In 2020 the Department of Local Government conducted an assessment of the various allegations against the Matzikama council and recommended to the Minister to initiate an investigation under section 106 (b) of the Systems Act in respect of six complaints.
These complaints included the alleged irregular appointment of two family members of the Executive Mayor at the time. Three further complaints also involve allegations of irregular appointments and one complaint involves an alleged irregular payment made to a former ward councillor to resign in order for a by-election to be conducted.
The Minister asked the Matzikama council to comply with an investigation into the allegations, but the council refused, leaving the minister with no other option but to approach the court.
“All requests by investigators for information and documentation from Matzikama and its officials had been refused and the council and its leaders had been completely uncooperative. This left us with no choice but to approach the court.
Judge Hockey found that the stance of non-cooperation adopted by Matzikama was unlawful.
The judge made the following order:
“The applicant (Matzikama Local Municipality) and all those working under it are directed immediately to comply with the investigation initiated by the first respondent (MEC for Local Government in the Western Cape).”
Bredell says the conduct by public officials and political office bearers in Matzikama is harmful not only to the rule of law but to the residents of Matzikama.
“Leaders in municipalities are reminded that they are elected to serve their communities and not themselves. It is a pity that elected leaders – often in the poorest municipalities – appear to forget about their communities once they are in power and when questions are raised, they abuse their positions to protect their actions. We welcome the court’s order and we look forward to bringing this matter to a swift conclusion.”
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Mobile: 084 583 1670
Telephone: 021 483 2820