Councillors walk out from the council

COUNCILLORS from the opposition parties walked out from a special council meeting held at the Matatiele Local Municipal council chambers on Tuesday afternoon.

The special council meeting was intended to discuss a letter from Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) which was sent to the mayor on April 24, 2017.

The media was barred from being part of the meeting.

Speaker Nomasomi Mshuqwana said the council was not aware of the letter until the mayor spoke about it at a council meeting last week.

“The letter was not read to the council because it had confidential matters. The contents of the letter were about the misuse of funds that were set aside for the municipality to spend during the 2014 general elections. The letter further wanted the municipality to take actions against people who were implicated in the irregular expenditure,” she said.

Councillors from the Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), United Democratic Movement (UDM) and African Independent Congress (AIC) demanded the letter be made available to all councillors rather than discussing it without knowing its contents.

When the speaker refused, they walked out of the council meeting.

DA chief whip, councillor Wonga Potwana said the party will seek legal opinion to compel the municipality to release the letter to councillors. “We did not want to speak about the letter because speaker refused to release the document to councillors. We want the letter to be made available because it is a public document,” he said.

EFF councillor Tumo Mothapa also demanded that the letter be given to councillors saying it is not supposed to be handled as a confidential document. Also, UDM councillor Lebo Stuurman said he will approach the leadership of the party about what to do about this letter.

“UDM has no problem in collaborating with other opposition parties when seeking legal opinion that will force the municipality to release the letter to councillors,” he said.

Mshuqwana said the municipality will research the facts and findings of the letter and take action if necessary.