10 September 2019
STATEMENT FROM BRETT HERRON, GOOD MPL & SECRETARY-GENERAL
Corruption in George…
THE DA CANNOT INVESTIGATE ITSELF BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
GOOD welcomes the announcement of an investigation into malfeasance in DA-run George Municipality.
Having the investigation report to MEC Anton Bredell, however, is like appointing a fox to guard a chicken house. MEC Bredell has known about the alleged corruption and maladministration in George for so long that he cannot be expected to be impartial or independent.
Indeed, among the allegations are that the MEC was personally involved in manipulating investigations into these matters in the past.
Instead of acting on the allegations, he acted to protect the DA and DA councillors. GOOD therefore calls on MEC Bredell to recuse himself from any role in the investigation, which should be conducted independently and report directly to the Premier.
The outcomes of the investigation should be tabled in the Provincial Parliament so that the probe is open and transparent and in keeping with the Premier’s commitment to a government of integrity.
Below is a brief summary of GOOD’s efforts to hold the DA accountable for the rotten state of George:
In April GOOD Leader Patricia De Lille submitted evidence to the Public Protector of a VBS-style investment and kickback scheme involving R350 million of public funds transferred by George Municipality to Old Mutual. Although Bredell acknowledged he was aware of the allegations, he evidently failed to act. A forensic investigation conducted by a firm of attorneys recommended disciplinary action against the town’s Chief Financial Officer and a DA Councillor, and that the matter should be referred to the applicable law enforcement agency for further investigation. No such action has been taken.
In July I wrote to the Premier about allegations of the involvement of the MEC for Human Settlements, Tertuis Simmers, in electricity theft while he was a Councillor in George. A criminal complaint laid by the municipality was withdrawn after the DA-run council amended its Meter Tampering Policy to decriminalise electricity theft. Bredell was alerted to these facts by local DA members in 2018. Instead of referring the case to the DA’s Federal Legal Commission, Bredell referred it the DA Provincial Disciplinary Committee which cynically decided to await the outcome of the police investigation. The police investigation was going nowhere because the George officials were instructed to withdraw the complaint.
GOOD’s corruption desk is presently investigating alleged irregularities relating to the Go George public transport project. We will release our findings once they are completed.
If the province institutes a credible and independent investigation process we will
provide the Go George evidence to the investigator.