Eden’s DA-led Council Ordered to Pay R540 000 in Damages

Godfrey Louw

[put out by the Justice & Equality Forum]

Godfrey Louw is proving to be the DA’s biggest mistake since the DA took control of the Eden District Council.

In the latest debacle (in an unbroken run of debacles), the DA-led, Eden District Municipality has been dealt yet another expensive blow, this time by the South African Local Government Bargaining Council. Commissioner De Kock, who presided over a complaint by learners who were fired by Godfrey Louw, (municipal manager), ruled against the Eden Municipal Council in finding that Louw had illegally terminated the contracts of more than 54 learners from the Klein Karoo municipal area alone.

This project, initiated by the ANC when it was in government, aims to equip the poorest of the poor with hard skills to enable them to compete for jobs on equal footing in the municipality and the private sector. When Louw took over the reins as Municipal Manager, one of the first things he did was to sack hundreds of learners hoping they were ignorant of their rights and would not take him to court. Well, his gamble did not come off because all the learners lodged complaints with the Bargaining Council and, in the first of a number of rulings, the commissioner ruled that Eden must pay the learners more than R 540 000 in damages. We have reliably learnt that a second batch of learners has also won their cases and Eden will now have to cough up further damages to the tune of millions. It seems that the hidden agenda of the DA WAR ROOM will not only cost the already battered rate payer dearly, but even Louw’s job, or will the grand puppet master Theuns Botha come to his rescue once again?

Astoundingly, Louw has made claims in the local media that the contracts were terminated by Morne Hoogbaard, the former acting Municipal Manager. What baffles the brain is that Louw and the Eden Municipality are already entangled in expensive legal suits arising out of Louw defaming individuals while acting in his capacity as municipal manager. The only ones who are currently smiling over all of this are Louw’s legal team who are being paid by the municipality. In 2010, Louw was found guilty by an internal disciplinary hearing of fruitless and wasteful expenditure for paying the DA’s legal bill of R270 000-00 out of the state’s coffers. After Louw appealed to the Bargaining Council, the finding was upheld. One would have expected some consequences or at least recovery of the money from him personally or from the DA, but it seems like for as long as the DA is in control of things, these matters will go by unchallenged and not a peep will be heard from the ratepayers or the media.

Since the DA has taken control of the Eden Council, they have demonstrated their lack of a strategic vision, lurching from one crisis to another unwaveringly supporting Louw in his narrow battle to settle scores with officials and politicians whom he still blames for being suspended by the Council in 2010. What he has forgotten is that he was suspended by a full council and his presiding officer ruled that he violated financial regulations and fought the political legal battles of the DA with Council funds. Unfortunately it is not only avoidable legal cases that are costing the tax payer dearly, but numerous other political motivated decisions as well. In just one example they have lost a multimillion rand grant from National Government because they negligently did not spend the money, despite of the fact that the previous administration already appointing several service providers to render theses services.

Our struggling economy really cannot afford blunders like this. Let’s further cross our fingers that these service providers don’t seek legal advice.

[‘You’re black!’, said the pot to the kettle – Ed]

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