Tension between Bitou’s ruling coalition partners boils over

As the official opposition in the Bitou Municipality, the Democratic Alliance (DA) - without executive powers to influence events - was side-lined in behind-the-scenes infighting between the ruling AUF/ANC coalitionAs the official opposition in the Bitou Municipality, the Democratic Alliance (DA) - without executive powers to influence events - was side-lined in behind-the-scenes infighting between the ruling AUF/ANC coalition partners.
Pre-election management shuffles aimed at perpetuating their influence over the administration after the 2021 Local Government Elections lies at the heart of the fight, which simmered for weeks to finally erupt with the sudden resignation of the CFO.
It is this gerrymandering that led to the chaotic emergency in-committee council meeting on Friday October 16, called by the ANC speaker the night before.
The rift became tangible when the mayor inexplicably excused himself from the meeting which he should have led. The mayor’s absence left the ANC effectively in control of the meeting as the Speaker could rely on his casting vote in the otherwise hung council.
During the meeting, the DA learnt that two directors had resigned while a further director was forced to retire and the Director of Corporate Services position will remain vacant for the foreseeable future.

Bitou Chief Financial Officer resigns
On Tuesday October 13, CFO Vincent Mkhefa handed his resignation to the executive mayor indicating that he would comply with the two-month notice period required by his employment contract.
On Thursday the 15th, the mayor invoked the delegated powers conferred to him and accepted Mkhefa’s resignation without involving the council, as is standard practice with all senior staff movements.
Mkhefa, although released early by the mayor on full pay up to November 30, objected to his early release but was promptly escorted out of his office on the instruction of the mayor. In response, Mkhefa contacted the speaker requesting council to intervene.
At the ensuing meeting, the council appointed Expenditure manager, Ntho Maredi as acting CFO.

Director of Engineering Services resigns, transfers internally to head up Project Management Unit
A WhatsApp message, received by councillors from the absent mayor during the emergency meeting, made it clear that Michael Rhode’s resignation and the transfer was not fully discussed by the mayoral committee (MAYCO) before it was brought to the emergency council meeting by the ANC without warning to the mayor.
The DA’s request that this matter be referred back to the MAYCO was ignored by the speaker.
A vacancy was declared but to ensure continuity, council resolved that Rhode would continue serving as acting director of Engineering Services until his replacement can be appointed.

Director of Economic Development and Planning retired, replaced by a former Bitou Town Planner
The incumbent director, David Friedman who reached retirement age earlier this year, was serving on a month-to-month basis during the recruitment process for his successor.
Also in this instance, the mayor’s message made it clear that the matter was not discussed by the MAYCO before it was carried into the council meeting by the ANC speaker. One has to wonder how it came about that the mayor so inexplicably excused himself from this important meeting.
The DA argued that Gericke was compromised and voted against his appointment as the director but with the casting vote of the speaker, the ANC had their way once more.
During 2011, Gericke worked under then municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo, as town planner when Ngoqo was dismissed for the fraudulent over-evaluation of the controversial Ebenezer land. At the time Gericke followed Ngoqo.
When Ngoqo was controversially reappointed by mayor Peter Lobese, he, in turn, reappointed Gericke to work in his own office - this, while Ngoqo’s reappointment was declared illegal by the Cape High Court.
Many Bitou residents will be aware that Gericke was active in property development matters on behalf of a firm of attorneys in Plettenberg Bay since he left the employ of the municipality.

Director for Corporate Services position to be readvertised as it remains vacant
After being readvertised several times this position, after more than a year, is still not filled and will remain vacant while it is advertised again. Reportedly, this position was the origin of the present war between the coalition partners.

Ballot box remains the only way to ensure a clean administration in Bitou
The AUF/ANC coalition has proven to be an even larger failure than every other municipal council coalition in South Africa.
Independents and small parties in Bitou, backed by civic pressure groups, all have their eye on the “kingmaker” position in the 2021 municipal election with the exclusive objective of gaining the mayoral seat, as did Peter Lobese in 2016.
Such parties will invariably start with unavoidable nepotism and overwhelming expectations of favouritism from their support base, as Lobese and others have so unequivocally proven in the past.
If ever there was a time when Bitou needed a strong and well-established party, with a clean governance track record such as the DA has, to win an outright majority, it is in the upcoming Local Government 2021 Election.
Whatever armchair critics and political commentators may say, statistics do not lie. In 2011 the DA, for the first time in Bitou’s history, could form a coalition government with COPE. This also proved to be a difficult coalition as it inherited a bankrupt administration from the ANC with a deficit of over R30-million.
True to the history of coalitions, the DA/COPE coalition was initially lamed by internal strife and diverging objectives.
Fortunately, the DA gained the outright majority in a 2013 by-election, which allowed it to fully govern Bitou for three years up to the 2016 election. In the space of these three years, Bitou, for the first time in its history, gained not only one but three successive clean audits.
When the 2016 Local Government Election dawned, the DA had turned the deficit around to a positive cash balance of R76-million.
Bill Nel - DA Bitou Caucus Leader, Plett

partners.
Pre-election management shuffles aimed at perpetuating their influence over the administration after the 2021 Local Government Elections lies at the heart of the fight, which simmered for weeks to finally erupt with the sudden resignation of the CFO.
It is this gerrymandering that led to the chaotic emergency in-committee council meeting on Friday October 16, called by the ANC speaker the night before.
The rift became tangible when the mayor inexplicably excused himself from the meeting which he should have led. The mayor’s absence left the ANC effectively in control of the meeting as the Speaker could rely on his casting vote in the otherwise hung council.
During the meeting, the DA learnt that two directors had resigned while a further director was forced to retire and the Director of Corporate Services position will remain vacant for the foreseeable future.

Bitou Chief Financial Officer resigns
On Tuesday October 13, CFO Vincent Mkhefa handed his resignation to the executive mayor indicating that he would comply with the two-month notice period required by his employment contract.
On Thursday the 15th, the mayor invoked the delegated powers conferred to him and accepted Mkhefa’s resignation without involving the council, as is standard practice with all senior staff movements.
Mkhefa, although released early by the mayor on full pay up to November 30, objected to his early release but was promptly escorted out of his office on the instruction of the mayor. In response, Mkhefa contacted the speaker requesting council to intervene.
At the ensuing meeting, the council appointed Expenditure manager, Ntho Maredi as acting CFO.

Director of Engineering Services resigns, transfers internally to head up Project Management Unit
A WhatsApp message, received by councillors from the absent mayor during the emergency meeting, made it clear that Michael Rhode’s resignation and the transfer was not fully discussed by the mayoral committee (MAYCO) before it was brought to the emergency council meeting by the ANC without warning to the mayor.
The DA’s request that this matter be referred back to the MAYCO was ignored by the speaker.
A vacancy was declared but to ensure continuity, council resolved that Rhode would continue serving as acting director of Engineering Services until his replacement can be appointed.

Director of Economic Development and Planning retired, replaced by a former Bitou Town Planner
The incumbent director, David Friedman who reached retirement age earlier this year, was serving on a month-to-month basis during the recruitment process for his successor.
Also in this instance, the mayor’s message made it clear that the matter was not discussed by the MAYCO before it was carried into the council meeting by the ANC speaker. One has to wonder how it came about that the mayor so inexplicably excused himself from this important meeting.
The DA argued that Gericke was compromised and voted against his appointment as the director but with the casting vote of the speaker, the ANC had their way once more.
During 2011, Gericke worked under then municipal manager Lonwabo Ngoqo, as town planner when Ngoqo was dismissed for the fraudulent over-evaluation of the controversial Ebenezer land. At the time Gericke followed Ngoqo.
When Ngoqo was controversially reappointed by mayor Peter Lobese, he, in turn, reappointed Gericke to work in his own office - this, while Ngoqo’s reappointment was declared illegal by the Cape High Court.
Many Bitou residents will be aware that Gericke was active in property development matters on behalf of a firm of attorneys in Plettenberg Bay since he left the employ of the municipality.

Director for Corporate Services position to be readvertised as it remains vacant
After being readvertised several times this position, after more than a year, is still not filled and will remain vacant while it is advertised again. Reportedly, this position was the origin of the present war between the coalition partners.

Ballot box remains the only way to ensure a clean administration in Bitou
The AUF/ANC coalition has proven to be an even larger failure than every other municipal council coalition in South Africa.
Independents and small parties in Bitou, backed by civic pressure groups, all have their eye on the “kingmaker” position in the 2021 municipal election with the exclusive objective of gaining the mayoral seat, as did Peter Lobese in 2016.
Such parties will invariably start with unavoidable nepotism and overwhelming expectations of favouritism from their support base, as Lobese and others have so unequivocally proven in the past.
If ever there was a time when Bitou needed a strong and well-established party, with a clean governance track record such as the DA has, to win an outright majority, it is in the upcoming Local Government 2021 Election.
Whatever armchair critics and political commentators may say, statistics do not lie. In 2011 the DA, for the first time in Bitou’s history, could form a coalition government with COPE. This also proved to be a difficult coalition as it inherited a bankrupt administration from the ANC with a deficit of over R30-million.
True to the history of coalitions, the DA/COPE coalition was initially lamed by internal strife and diverging objectives.
Fortunately, the DA gained the outright majority in a 2013 by-election, which allowed it to fully govern Bitou for three years up to the 2016 election. In the space of these three years, Bitou, for the first time in its history, gained not only one but three successive clean audits.
When the 2016 Local Government Election dawned, the DA had turned the deficit around to a positive cash balance of R76-million.
Bill Nel - DA Bitou Caucus Leader, Plett