Judge Criticises ANC/DA Battles Cost to Ratepayers

The battle between the ANC and the DA for Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn has been legal vicious, costing a fortune that has far too often fallen on the shoulders of overburdened taxpayers. It is one of the greatest challenges to many South African Municipalities struggling to keep their heads above the financial line.

Yesterday, August 27 2014, Judge Rodgers gave the DA a victory over the ANC in Oudtshoorn. His lengthy explanation included severe criticism of political parties using ratepayers' cash to fund their power struggles:

"I confess to a considerable measure of unease at this state of affairs. It appears to me that, once again, the ratepayers are being asked to foot the bill for ongoing battles between political factions.

Given the stance adopted by the parties... I do not think it would be fair for me to deprive the applicants of their cost or that the costs be paid personally by any of the original respondents.

However, all councillors and the parties to which they belong should be warned in future litigation the court may wish to be more fully addressed on why they, rather than the ratepayers, should be ordered to pay or bear the costs of this type of litigation.

Councillors in general should also bear in mind that, if they cause a municipality to raise meritless claims or put up meritless defences and if, as a result, their municipality is ordered to pay costs to the other litigant, they may, in terms of s32 of the Local Government Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003, become personally liable for deliberate or negligently making or authorising 'fruitless and wasteful expenditure'(defined in s1 of that Act as meaning 'expenditure that was made in vain and would have been avoided had reasonable care have been exercised').

I cannot but think that, over the past several years, the political factions in this Municipality (Oudtshoorn) have allowed their unseemly jockeying for power to distract them from the mandate laid down in s152 of the Constitution, s19(2) of the Structures Act and s6(2) of the Systems Act. They exist for the community, not the other way round."

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