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Premier Alan Winde accused of dragging his feet in disciplining Anton Bredell

MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell said he intends to launch a review of the Public Protector’s findings against him. Picture: File

MEC for Local Government Anton Bredell said he intends to launch a review of the Public Protector’s findings against him. Picture: File

Published Jan 16, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - After missing a self-imposed deadline to file a legal review of the Public Protector’s findings against him, opposition parties are now questioning why MEC Anton Bredell appears to have got a reprieve from a possible reprimand.

Nearly three months ago, a report by Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s office found that Bredell, who serves as the Western Cape’s MEC for Local Government, was guilty of breaching the Executive Ethic Code.

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This related to a complaint laid by the Good Party’s Brett Herron, who alleged that Bredell failed to act when, back in 2019, the former mayor of the Oudtshoorn Municipality, Colan Sylvester, alerted the MEC to several allegations of maladministration, fraud, corruption and financial misconduct on the part of the municipality, and requested his assistance.

As part of the recommendations, Premier Alan Winde was instructed to submit a report on action taken to the Provincial Legislature, and to then inform the Public Protector of the implementation of the action.

On November 2, Bredell wrote to Winde informing him of his intention to file a legal review of the report within 60 days – a deadline that lapsed two weeks ago, without papers being filed.

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Now, in a letter seen by Weekend Argus addressed to Winde, Bredell cited Covid-19 and the end-of-year closures as among the factors that contributed to him missing his own deadline.

“I apologise for the delay in getting the litigation process initiated, which has been occasioned by factors beyond my control, including, but not limited to, the fact that it is end-of-year holidays for many officials and counsel, and we have been in the midst of a fourth wave of Covid infections for most of December,” read the letter.

“But I submit there is no prejudice to any party in this slight delay in the initiation of the review proceedings in question.”

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But a year ago, Winde served Bredell with a "formal reprimand" following a finding by the Public Protector that he breached the Executive Ethic Code on another matter relating to dealings at the George Municipality.

“The MEC has to date had more than 80 days to bring his review application, but has failed to do so. A letter of intent to do so is not a basis for the Premier to suspend the peremptory remedial action ordered by the Public Protector,” said Herron.

“This is the second finding of a breach of the Executive Ethics Act and Code against Bredell in this term of office.

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“Winde, who claims to lead a Western Cape government of integrity, has had four members of his executive found to have breached the Executive Ethics Act and Code: the Premier himself, Bredell twice and serial liar Bonginkosi Madikizela.”

But Winde’s office maintains that the Premier complied with the remedial actions required of him in terms of the report.

“(MEC) Bredell has formally indicated that he intends to apply to the High Court for the review and setting aside of this report and has briefed counsel with the intention of launching the same by the end of January,” said Winde’s spokesperson, Cayla Murray.

“Both the Speaker and the Public Protector have been advised of his intended action in this regard and the Premier’s office has hence determined to await the outcome of such (a) court process prior to any action being taken, if any, in this regard, and advised both the Public Protector and the Speaker accordingly.”

Bredell’s spokesperson, Wouter Kriel told Weekend Argus the MEC fully intended to take the review and had briefed counsel.

“(MEC) Bredell disagrees with the findings that have been made against him and will now seek to have the report set aside by a court of law,” he said.

“He advised the Premier that he aims to have the application launched by the end of January, having experienced a slight delay in the finalisation of the papers due to the intervening end-of-year shut down period.

“Both the Premier and the Public Protector have been advised of this accordingly. Given that the 60-day period was a self-imposed time period by (MEC) Bredell for the launching of the court application and is not part of the recommendations by the Public Protector, no prejudice will be suffered, nor is there a breach of any of the recommendations.”

But the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore accused Winde of dragging his feet in addressing the matter.

“MEC Bredell is politically senior to Premier Winde within the DA structures given that he serves on the Federal Council. This is one reason why Winde treats Bredell with kid gloves,” he said.

“When I complained to the Public Protector about Bredell’s unlawful interference in George appointments to favour (the) DA, the Public Protector found against him. Winde did not remove him from his cabinet or fine him. Now, in the Oudtshoorn matter, not only has Bredell once again been found guilty, he has also failed to appeal the finding in time.

“Clearly Winde is afraid to act against Bredell. This makes a mockery of Winde’s promise of clean government.”

Dugmore said Bredell should be the one to foot the bill for his review application, instead of the state.

“His conduct had to do with advancing DA and personal interests, not issues related to his portfolio. This abuse of power should not be funded by taxpayers,” he concluded.

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