Love Knysna petition (petition on alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities at Knysna Local Municipality)

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

10 February 2016
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC; Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to be hear a petition by Love Knysna, an advocacy project which had petitioned the Committee on the alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities at Knysna Local Municipality.

Ms Susan Campbell, Legal Advisor Knysna Environmental Forum, said she had knowledge about the Integrated Strategic Development Framework (ISDF) and the appointment of the Municipal Manager in Knysna Municipality (KM). She said that the ISDF tender historically had included the review of the spatial development framework (SDF) which had been introduced in the Municipal Systems Act (MSA). Knysna’s first SDF had been adopted in 2009 which had been controversial amongst developers as it sought to implement Government’s policy to curb urban sprawl. She said the greatest opponent to that SDF had been Dr Chris Mulder who had eventually been awarded the tender; Ms Marike Vreken a town planner, Mr Mike Maughan-Brown who had been a town planner at the time and Urban-Econ Development Economists. Following the adoption of the SDF in 2009, Mr Maughan-Brown became the town planner for KM and his views on the SDF had not changed. In 2013 Mr Maughan-Brown became in charge of reviewing the SDF which he did by changing the name of the SDF to ISDF.

Concerning for Ms Campbell was that:

  • During the investigation by WCPT into the ISDF was that the people that had interviewed her seemed to have little knowledge of SCM regulations as they were from the Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (LGEADP) though they were interested in interviewing her.
  • When she requested the full report in the ISDF. KM replied it did not have the report and that she would have to call LGEADP. When she did that, the LGEADP replied that only Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Anton Bredell could release the report to KM and she would have to get it from KM. It then took the Public Protector (PP) six months to get that report out of the LGEADP which was in November 2015.
  • the KM of the administration shared the same legal manager as that used by the councillors
  • She found that there had been at least 13 findings, five of which were very serious relating to the incorrect procedure in awarding the ISDF tender. The KM had by that time released a press statement saying that all the findings of the WCPT regarding the ISDF tender had been wrong and nothing would be done thereafter.

The position of Municipal Manager initially found a white male winning the most points. Instead of hiring him, the Municipality readvertised the position saying that they wished an equity appointment i.e. a black or coloured person. Despite that, a previous white candidate was allowed to reapply which only made sense when Grant Easton, the white CFO of KM, was allowed to apply too. The requirements of the advertised post stipulated that applicants had to be able to speak two of the three main languages Mr Easton current still only spoke one. Furthermore Mr Easton only has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration to date. It was strange that, without an accounting degree, he was CFO. It was even stranger that he trumped his competition for the MM post despite it including a black candidate with a PHD in Public Administration.

The Chairperson paused the meeting to get legal advice on some of the matters in the petition since they were said to be before a court of law as the concern emanating from members was mainly that the separation of powers principle between Parliament and the judiciary could be compromised. Resuming the proceedings the Chairperson said the Committee would not deliberate on the petitions on that day. However, clarity seeking questions would be allowed.

It emerged during clarity seeking questions between the Committee and the petitioner that Mr J Londt (DA: Western Cape) was conflicted as he had been one of the DA officials that had been approached by the petitioner seeking a resolution to the matters involving Knysna Tourism with no avail. After a short back and forth between members of the Committee with the Chairperson, Mr Londt was allowed to stay for the duration of the proceedings but to not participate at all.

Mr Hampton said that he would like the Committee to consider the fact that the former KM MM, Ms Laren Waring had deliberately lied to the PP. That he felt needed investigation, together with the financial irregularities relating to the KT funding as well.  The Committee had to ask if the appointment of one Mr Grant Easton had not been preordained. Additionally it had to ask if the appointment of one Mr Greg Vogt as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of tourism at KM had not been preordained as well seeing that he had been a director at the KT board. When ex-CEO of KT, Mr Shaun van Eck was dismissed Mr Vogt; though he had been a director of KT ran the KT for 22 months without there been a CEO. During that time he received R20 000 monthly through a third party. The public officials involved had a clear conflict of interest as they were all culpable for Tourism's losses too. Furthermore it can be seen that the cover-up did strengthen the positions of the involved officials as Councillor Esme Edge got promoted to Deputy Mayor (DM), Mr Easton promoted to MM and Mr Vogt, as stated, became CEO (with a big salary).

Mr Hampton said that the Committee had to consider that there had been political and local Government interference regarding getting answers on those issues; In light of specifically named persons in the petition, because he had personally approached some of them with the same questions he was pleading the Committee to consider regarding his evidence.

The Committee:

  • Asked what the outcomes of the court cases against Mr Hampton were. It wanted clarity whether the petitioner had said he was not allowed to mention the DM in any form or way by court order. If he was barred from doing so, what was the nature of the court order and on what grounds had the court granted such an order?
  • Had Mr Hampton approached the ANC leadership of his region seeing that he mentioned in his petition that he had approached the DA regional leadership?
  • What had been MEC Bredell’s involvement in the entire ISDF tender challenges as presented by Ms Campbell?
  • Ms Campbell had alluded to a letter from the WCPG to KM with a paragraph that was saying there had been no wrong doing in the awarding of the ISDF tender. Who had been the original author of that letter and who had been the subsequent author of the second letter which had had that original paragraph removed? What could have prompted the removal of that paragraph if the author was the same person in both cases?
  • In point format; could Ms Campbell outline what she thought the WCPG was supposed to have done in the awarding of the ISDF tender.
  • What specific example could Mr Hampton give the Committee to exhibit in a particular instance there had been political interference with his enquiries?

Mr Michael Brewis, LGEADP, Director said that the bulk of the issues presented by Ms Campbell and Mr Hampton were for the KM. The province had a mandate on the ISDF and the appointment of the MM. He said that as the provincial administration they were pleading with the Committee to respond to some of the matters raised in writing as it would be a challenge to respond to all of them considering the time limitations.

Mr Estienne Pretorius, WCPT, Head said that soon after Dr Ivan Meyer was appointed MEC Finance in the WC, ex-MEC Winde informed the current MEC that the Mayor of KM had requested an investigation into the ISDF tender. The WCPT recommended to MEC Bredell who was the lead agent in terms of the MFMA to put together a provincial task team to investigate the ISDF. The task team included officials from LGEADP, the provincial internal legal services as well as the head of Procurement in the WCPT, Mr Isaac Smith who was present at the petition meeting. The task team had gone to Knysna and interviewed a wide array of witnesses. At the conclusion of the interviews which had included Ms Campbell the task team had submitted a report to LGEADP. LGEADP had made those documents available to KM at that time and KM contested that report providing information that the task team had not been privy to at the beginning of the investigation on the ISDF tender. Those included KM local procurement policy and other matters, which led to some of the deficiencies which the task team had identified, been attended to by KM. Since then LGEADP has been engaging KM on the ISDF issues and the work was ongoing as far as Mr Pretorius understood. Recently the PP had contacted Mr Pretorius and he got the impression that the office of the PP was preparing to investigate the matter or wanted to determine whether there were any merits to an investigation. He reminded the Committee that SCM was quite complex because it was continually changing as there had been regulatory changes to the SCM legislative framework in 2015. MEC Meyer and Mr Brewis had arranged a workshop where all SCM officials of all municipalities in the WC had been trained to address the challenges in SCM compliance. KM had also attended that workshop in November 2015 where many of the contentious issues in the ISDF had been raised and deliberated. Additionally although councillors themselves did not participate in the actual procurement exercise, WCPT had offered through Mayor Wolmarans that its officials could conduct a training session on SCM for all political party representatives on the council. That work was envisaged to happen late in 2016 as the arrangements were still underway. There was no final provincial position on the ISDF but from a procurement angle, WCPT had pointed out the deficiencies in the ISDF process and Mr Pretorius undertook to find where the PP was heading with its investigation by the 19 February 2016.

The Committee:

  • Wanted clarity on when the challenges with the ISDF process were reported to the WCPT; had there been any timelines set for finalisation of the investigation or were they never set?
  • What were the specific challenges in procurement if the WCPT was opting to embark on an SCM workshop with all 30 municipalities of the province?
  • What had been the exact deficiencies which the task team had identified and how had they been resolved?
  • Said that as Ms Campbell had alleged that since 2011 there had been quite a number of irregularities regarding the tendering processes at KM: Had the WCPT only investigated in 2015 on the ISDF? Had it not been aware of the alleged irregularities in tendering processes before then?
  • If councillors were not involved directly in procurement where did WCPT locate the quarterly SCM reports that were supposed to be presented to council in terms of ensuring that councillors played their oversight responsibilities on procurement? 
  • Wanted to know what the terms of reference of the task team that had been sent to KM to investigate the ISDF.  

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson thanked Members and visitors alike for showing up for the meeting though the starting time had been rescheduled twice. The scheduling of the training of Members of the Committee had severely affected the Committee’s first term programme. He outlined the programme changes for the following week. Because the leading petitioner was delayed he asked the Committee if it was acceptable to start with the supplementary petition.

Mr G Michaelakis (DA: Free State) said that it was the second petition the Committee was hearing in 2016 where documents had been distributed to members on the day of the meeting. That was unacceptable as it affected Committee engagement.

Mr J Mohapi (ANC: Free State) said possibly the issue could be problems with the e-mail as he had received his documents on time through his e-mail.

The Chairperson apologised for the Committee staff saying the matter would certainly be followed up. He then allowed the supplementary petition to be heard.

ISDF Tender - Comments on the findings of The Western Cape Provincial Government “WCPG”, In Respect Of the ISDF Tender Process and the Response thereto By the Knysna Municipality (“KM”).

Ms Susan Campbell, Legal Advisor and Member, Knysna Environmental Forum, said she had knowledge about the Integrated Strategic Development Framework (ISDF) and the appointment of the Municipal Manager in Knysna Municipality (KM). The ISDF tender historically had included the review of the spatial development framework (SDF) which had been introduced in the Municipal Systems Act (MSA). Knysna’s first SDF had been adopted in 2009 which had been controversial amongst developers as it sought to implement Government’s policy to curb urban sprawl. That SDF had been mainly to stop environmental and agricultural land consumption through development of high end income residential estates which placed a lot of strain on infrastructure. The greatest opponent to that SDF had been Dr Chris Mulder who had eventually been awarded the tender; Ms Marike Vreken a town planner, Mr Mike Maughan-Brown who had been a town planner at the time and Urban-Econ Development Economists.

Following the adoption of the SDF in 2009, Mr Maughan-Brown became the town planner for KM and his views on the SDF had not changed. In 2013, Mr Maughan-Brown became in charge of reviewing the SDF which he did by changing the name of the SDF to ISDF. The tender, which required extremely technical and scarce skills, had only been advertised in ‘Die Burger’ and the “Action Ads’ a small publication in Knysna. A company from Cape Town with the required skills tendered the lowest price and a highly scored Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) certificate. Dr Chris Mulder won the tender despite the better choices; his team included Urban-Econ Development Economists and Ms Marike Vreken. Consequently, the biggest opponents of the SDF had become in charge of reviewing it internally and externally of KM. There had been 133 objections to the ISDF in terms of section 49 of the Supply Chain Management (SCM) policy. She had personally prepared a very lengthy objection, which she had brought to Parliament, which she also had delivered on 7 May 2013, to KM on behalf of at least five civic associations. 

The response from KM was simply that the objectors had personal issues with Dr Mulder and there were no factual matters in their objections. That had been a blatant lie as the Committee would find when it went through the document on its own.

Ms Campbell informed the Committee that she had later found out that the municipal manager (MM) at that time had not referred the objections to an independent person timely but on 24 April 2013. The response to the referral by the independent individual had been given to the MM on 29 April 2013. That turned out to be also untrue, which meant the MM had flouted the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) and SCM regulations. The civic organizations then lobbied the politicians of the KM who never really responded. She found out later that the administration of KM had told the politicians that she was a disgruntled tenderer from another tender, which was in fact a lie. When the politicians eventually acknowledged that they had been misled, Ms Campbell approached the Western Cape Provincial Treasury (WCPT) which had responded promptly by writing a letter to the KM in December 2013; informing the KM that it had awarded the tender incorrectly as it had used functionality as a criterion. The letter disappeared at KM whereupon Ms Campbell continued writing to the WCPT until it wrote another letter to KM in February 2014 saying the same thing as before. The KM simply ignored replied very insultingly to the province.

Ms Campbell read the rest of the presentation to the Committee.

Concerning for Ms Campbell was that during the investigation by WCPT into the ISDF was that the people that had interviewed her seemed to have little knowledge of SCM regulations as they were from the  Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning(LGEADP) though they were interested in interviewing her. She then continued reading again.

She then wrote to KM requesting the full report in the ISDF. KM replied it did not have the report and that she would have to call LGEADP. When she did that, the LGEADP replied that only Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Anton Bredell could release the report to KM and she would have to get it from KM.

Having struggled so much to get the ISDF investigation report Ms Campbell eventually sought the assistance of the Public Protector (PP). It then took the PP six months to get that report out of the LGEADP which was November 2015. When she read through the report she found that there had been at least 13 findings, five of which were very serious relating to the incorrect procedure in awarding the ISDF tender. The KM had by that time released a press brief saying that all the findings of the WCPT regarding the ISDF tender had been wrong and nothing would be done thereafter.

 

Ms Campbell said she also was worried most by the practice in the KM of the administration sharing the same legal manager as that used by the councillors. Moreover, that legal manager was part of the adverse findings in the ISDF tender as she had not handled the objections in that report properly. Hopefully, it could be learned from that situation, that municipalities needed a legal advisor that would report to the municipal manager, so that councillors could have their own legal manager as there was an inherent conflict of interest when everyone including the mayor shared one legal advisor. How would the politicians exercise oversight on the administration when the advisor advising them was reporting to the municipal manager who had been implicated in wrong doing.

 As it was all the ISDF funding had been exhausted such that the consultants had asked for more and the council had approved the funding though the report had never been published anywhere let alone its recommendations becoming actions.

The Illegal Municipal Manager Appointment & Other Financial Irregularities

Ms Campbell read through the second document. She said that the KM advertised for a MM in November 2014 where an extremely appropriate black candidate had withdrawn from the process. She then summarized the rest of the second half of the joint petition which she had prepared to present together with Mr Hampton.

The Chairperson asked if members preferred to engage the three presentations individually or whether it was better for all the petitioners to present first.

Mr Michaelakis said that the documents before him pointed to Mr Hampton as the main petitioner, wherein some of the matters in the petition were said to be before a court of law. Could the Committee get legal advice on which matters within the petition were before a court and what the impact of their inclusion on the petition would be? His concern was mainly that the separation of powers principle between Parliament and the judiciary could be compromised.

The Chairperson agreed and asked Ms Campbell which from the two presentations she had made had legal aspects still in a court of law?

Ms Campbell said the ISDF tender matter was not before a court. Mr Lubbe however, had issued summons for damages against KM for not employing him as MM. Therefore that aspect of the appointment of the MM was before a court and she did not know how that related to the petition she had just read.

The Chairperson said it sounded like nothing relating to the petitions was in court and therefore the proceedings could continue.   

Mr Michaelakis said he was not certain he agreed with the Chairperson, as part of the issue in the response by Ms Campbell even if it was a civil matter related to a question that went to the core of the processes and the validity of the appointment of the MM. He was proposing therefore, that the Committee could solicit advice from Parliaments legal advisors on which aspects of the matter were sub judice.  

Mr D Ximbi (ANC: Western Cape) agreed with Mr Michaelakis and asked the Chairperson to pause the meeting so as to get the legal opinion from Parliaments advisors.

Mr Mohapi asked the Chairperson if he could allow Mr Hampton to address the Committee on clarifying the issue of contention before getting legal advice.

Mr Mike Hampton, Community Activist in Knysna said that inside his petition he had mentioned many court cases against him: None of which affected the appointment of the MM as they were all done in the personal capacity of the politicians and their associates. Secondly he had had no contact with Mr Lubbe as such anything he was to present still was free of Mr Lubbe. When returning to that matter, he asked to be allowed a few more points to that section of the petition.

The Chairperson acceded.

Mr Michaelakis agreed with Mr Ximbi that the Committee pause for a moment sooner rather than later to get the legal advice of Parliament.  

The Chairperson asked the visitors to vacate the room whilst the Committee caucused and was being advised by the legal advisors.

Resuming the proceedings, the Chairperson said that meeting would continue as planned however the Committee would not deliberate on the petitions on that day. However, clarity seeking questions would be allowed.

The Illegal Municipal Manager Appointment & Other Financial Irregularities

Mr Hampton said he would add a few more matters to the above titled section of his joint presentation with Ms Campbell. He then actually read the section that Ms Campbell had not read.

The Corruption & Maladministration of Knysna Tourism & Trouble in Knysna Report by Mike Hampton

Mr Hampton said that Knysna Tourism (KT) had run at a loss for four years that is, between 2010/11-2014/15 financial years. The vast majority of its tenders had been awarded to KT without tenders. KM paid KT between R4-4.5 million annually during the years it operated at a loss. From then on he read interchangeably between the two documents with similar but not exact content.

Mr J Londt (DA: Western Cape) interjected asking whether Mr Hampton was in fact saying the matter had been referred to the PP - if indeed that had been so, what had been the PP’s findings?

Mr Hampton reiterated that the PP had accepted Ms Laren Waring's answer that KT was a private entity and therefore there was nothing to investigate.

Mr Michaelakis asked why the matter was before the Committee if the PP had found nothing to investigate.

The Chairperson said he had thought if the petitioners felt it was important to include that as evidence then it was not a big issue.

Mr Mohapi asked for clarity from the Chairperson whether the agreement by the Committee had not been that only clarity seeking questions were allowed so that engagement with the petitions would be scheduled for another day.

The Chairperson agreed that he had clarified that matter and Mr Michaelakis had accepted that position. He then allowed Mr Hampton to proceed.

Mr Hampton apologised and reacted that he thought Mr Londt’s intervention had been a debate as he had brought those issues to Mr Londt’s attention before without a resolution thereof.

Ms T Mokwele (EFF; North West) reiterated the Chairpersons request that the petitioner be allowed to finish his presentation, so that clarity seeking question could arise at the end.

Mr Mohapi interjected that he had missed a latter part of Mr Hamptons presentation. If he could start from there, it would clarify a few things for him.

Mr Hampton said that he had initially had a meeting with MEC Alan Winde, regarding KT whereby there had been several people at that meeting from the DA constituency. They included Mr Londt.

Mr Mohapi interjected that if that was the case, Mr Londt was conflicted by staying on during the proceedings. Could Mr Londt excuse himself?

The Chairperson said he would agree to the request on principle that Mr Londt could sit in the meeting but not participate as a member of the Committee. As the Chairperson he had no jurisdiction to send a member out of ongoing proceedings.

Mr Mohapi argued that the principle of disclosure and declaration of interest stated that Mr Londt was supposed to have declared to the Committee at the beginning of proceedings, that he had interest in the matter.  After declaration or disclosure a member could not remain in a meeting.

Mr Londt interjected that if Mr Mohapi had read his documents as he had claimed earlier, he would have noticed what Mr Hampton was presenting. Moreover, he was not the answerable individual on the matter as there quite a few separate matters before the Committee.

The Chairperson reiterated that though Mr Londt could have constituencies around Knysna, as the Chairperson he could not remove him from the meeting though he would be barred from participating in that matter alone.

Mr Ximbi agreed that it was up to Mr Londt to declare if he had a conflict of interest indeed however, the Chairperson was correct in outlining the fact that the Committee could not remove Mr Londt without him moving to remove himself first.

Mr Michaelakis said that a conflict of interest would only arise when a person had an interest in a matter and was also a judge on the same matter. He was submitting that as long as Mr Londt was not deliberating and deciding on the matters, there was no conflict of interest.

Mr Mohapi said he would not dispute the Chairpersons ruling however, since reference was made to Mr Londt he maintained that the Committee had a right to summon him to appear before the Committee as prescribed by section 69 (a) on Evidence or information before the NCOP on issues that could be raised by a petitioner.

The Chairperson emphasised that should at any stage Mr Londt would want to testify before the Committee that was up to him. He would allow him to say something in that regard as the matter seemed quite contentious between the members.

 

Mr Londt said he respected the Chairpersons ruling however, engagement was a two way street and he was admitting there had been engagements with the petitioner but there had been answers given as well. Subsequent to that nothing followed except a one way communications stream.

Mr Mohapi interjected on a point of order saying that what Mr Londt was doing was debating the matter at that point, though the Chairperson had alluded to the fact that he could be directly or indirectly conflicted on the same matter. His response to the Committee on the matter was to immediately acknowledge engagement with the petitioner and the Committee was interested in what those engagements were. However, the Chairperson had not asked him that but whether he was comfortable continuing in attendance of the proceedings or not.

The Chairperson said that he thought Mr Londt understood Mr Mohapi and himself and asked whether Mr Londt would remain or not.

Mr Londt said he would remain but not participate on the KT matter going forward.

The Chairperson asked Mr Hampton to continue.  

Mr Hampton said that he would like the Committee to consider the fact that the former KM MM, Ms Waring, had deliberately lied to the PP. That he felt needed investigation, together with the financial irregularities relating to the KT funding as well.  The Committee had to ask if the appointment of one Mr Grant Easton had not been preordained. Additionally it had to ask if the appointment of one Mr Greg Vogt as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of tourism at KM had not been preordained as well seeing that he had been a director at the KT board. When ex-CEO of KT, Mr Shaun van Eck was dismissed Mr Vogt; though he had been a director of KT ran the KT for 22 months without there been a CEO. During that time he received R20 000 monthly through a third party. The public officials involved had a clear conflict of interest as they were all culpable for Tourism's losses too. Furthermore it can be seen that the cover-up did strengthen the positions of the involved officials as Councillor Esme Edge got promoted to Deputy Mayor (DM), Mr Easton promoted to MM and Mr Vogt, as stated, became CEO (with a big salary). When KT had to appoint a new CEO eventually, the same directors which were now KM senior management were the selectors of that CEO. On that final panel were Ms Waring, ANC Chief Whip Mr Stephen de Vries and Ms Nan Raturat who had been Deputy Chair of the KT Board. A Mr Dirk Jourbert had been brought in by the KM to make a new constitution for KT without tender to enlarge KT to do more business than tourism. That process had been completed where the new name of KT was Knysna and Partners. Mr Jourbert was also on the panel to select the new CEO of KT.

The Committee had to also consider that there has been political and local Government interference regarding getting answers on those issues. Especially in the light of specifically named persons in the petition as Mr Hampton had personally approached some with questions.

The Unconstitutional Blocking Of Communication 

Court cases against Mr Hampton by the involved officials were ranging from interim interdicts and harassment to crimen injuria and a civil suit. The applicants in these cases include DA DM Ms Edge, DA Councillor Mr Richard Dawson, Mr Vogt and Ms Magda Moos, a DA Constituent and the Deputy Chair CPF for the Southern Cape. Four of these cases were in the High Court and more than that in the Knysna Magistrates' Court. All have the DA and the mismanagement of KT in common.

He then read from the section in the petition Trouble in Knysna document.

Ms B Engelbrecht (DA: Gauteng) asked what the outcomes of the court cases against Mr Hampton were.

The Chairperson asked if Ms Engelbrecht was seeking clarity on something she missed on the presentation by that question

Ms Engelbrecht replied in the affirmative.

Mr Ximbi rose on a point of order noting that it had to be the Chairperson that allowed time for clarity seeking questions. He pleaded that the petition be allowed to proceed to conclusion of his petition.

Mr Hampton continued reading from his petition Trouble in Knysna document.

Ms Mokwele interjected whether it was wise for the Committee to allow Mr Hampton to continue mentioning the DM Ms Edge if he was on a 60 day ban.

The Chairperson said that it was established that Parliamentary debate was inadmissible evidence in a court of law.

Mr Hampton read that all the cases against him did not relate to the content of his petition.

Mr Michaelakis said that the Chairperson’s comments about the inadmissibility of deliberations as evidence sounded wrong as it sounded like he was allowing the petitioner the right to violate a court order, which was illegal.

 

The Chairperson said that Mr Michaelakis knew very well that was not what he was doing. By the petitioner or anyone informing others that they had a dispute with another individual did not violate a court order. There was no content of the court order that was being divulged in saying to others there was a dispute between two people.

Mr Hampton continued that it was interesting that all the persons who had taken him to court were all officials he had accused of being culpable in the maladministration and corruption of KT. He then read again from the document regarding the advocate he had been appearing against in all five of the cases against him.

Discussion

Mr Michaelakis asked for clarity whether the petitioner had said he was not allowed to mention the DM in any form or way by court order. If he was barred from doing so, what was the nature of the court order and on what grounds had the court granted such an order?

Ms Engelbrecht repeated her earlier question on what the outcomes of the cases which Mr Hampton was charged with had been.

Ms Mokwele cautioned that the members of the DA did not need to treat clarity seeking questions as an opportunity to attack Mr Hampton. She also proposed that members ask questions on both Ms Campbell and Mr Hampton’s submission once off, so that the petitioners would then respond at once to all questions.

The Chairperson agreed that members had to be cautious and then allowed members to ask more questions.

Mr Mohapi requested that the Chairperson advise Mr Hampton to be at ease and not react to members of the DA in the Committee because reaction would hamper Mr Hampton’s narrative to the Committee.

Mr M Chetty (DA: KwaZulu Natal) asked if Mr Hampton had approached the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) since he read the content of the petition to be more related to that Department. Had Mr Hampton approached the ANC leadership of his region seeing that he mentioned in his petition that he had approached the DA regional leadership?

Mr Ximbi asked Ms Campbell to clarify whether the two persons that had conducted the interviews for the appointment of the MM had been the DM and the Mayor. What had been MEC Bredell’s involvement in the entire ISDF tender challenges as presented by Ms Campbell?

Ms Mokwele asked how Mr Hampton had been blocked by the KM. Was the KM a local government coalition of the ANC and the DA. If that was the case; it was then clear that collusion was happening in both political parties. It was worrying that a citizen had to raise such grave matters about a coalition government of the biggest parties in the country.

Mr Mohapi rose on a point of order reminding the Committee that it was to seek clarity on the petitions. He said that Ms Mokwele was then pulling the proceedings to a debate which he did not think was proper. He pleaded that the Committee needed not to politicise the matter.

Ms Mokwele replied that the matter was a clear exhibition of politics whether Mr Mohapi had issue or not with that fact. She then reiterated her question on how the KM was political constituted in terms of representation.

The Chairperson said that Ms Mokwele was in order when asking clarity on the constitution of the KM in terms of party representativity; however when she was venturing into collusion by parties she was out of order as she was debating the submissions when the Committee had agreed that would stand over for an appropriate time but not that sitting.

Ms Mokwele said that both the Chairperson and Mr Mohapi were corrupt.

The Chairperson immediately asked Ms Mokwele to withdraw her latter statement.

Ms Mokwele refused to withdraw the statement as she believed it was not deliberative.

The Chairperson pleaded with Ms Mokwele clarifying that he required her to withdraw her inference that the Committee was corrupt in asking for clarity from the petitioner.

Ms Mokwele maintained her position, whilst repeating her question as to whether KM was a coalition municipality of the DA and the ANC. Moreover she would withdraw the utterance during deliberations of the petitions. She further explained that her inference of corruption was not to the Committee but the DA and the ANC in Knysna.

The Chairperson refused the explanation saying he had heard Ms Mokwele quite clearly to be referring to the sitting, of which it was the Committee on Petitions and not political parties. Seeing that the Ms Mokwele was not complying with his request, the Chairperson asked Ms Mokwele to excuse herself from the proceedings.

Ms Mokwele withdrew her inference of corruption by the Committee. She however, added that her withdrawal was because she wanted to be part of the proceedings to the end and for nothing else. 

 

Mr Mohapi recalled that Ms Campbell had alluded to a letter from the WCPG to KM with a paragraph saying there had been no wrong doing in the awarding of the ISDF tender. Who had been the original author of that letter and who had been the subsequent author of the second letter which had had that original paragraph removed? What could have prompted the removal of that paragraph if the author was the same person in both cases?

He also recalled that she had submitted to the Committee that there was a KM official who had been conflicted in the awarding of the ISDF as he had been a tenderer and an adjudicator in that tender process. Who was that official and in what capacity was the official acting under at the time?

What report was it that Ms Campbell had referred to which had been supposed to be published which KM had not published?

In point format; could Ms Campbell outline what she thought the WCPG was supposed to have done in the awarding of the ISDF tender.

Mr Mohapi asked Mr Hampton to elaborate on the irregularities that had been found by the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA); specifically which financial year’s reports was he talking to in his submissions?

What specific example could Mr Hampton give the Committee to exhibit in a particular instance there had been political interference with his enquiries?

On the matter of the local PP, Mr Bruce Wessels telling Mr Hampton that though he knew as Mr Wessels that he was being lied to; he was being pressurised by his bosses to accept that KT had been a private entity.  What other recourse did Mr Hampton take in that regard?

Mr Hampton had submitted to the Committee that he had petitioned the municipality on numerous occasions until his e-mails were blocked. Recently they had however, been unblocked but those that related to the petition he was submitting to Parliament were still blocked. Did he then go to the WCPG as further steps to get accountability from the KM?

Since Mr Hampton had also alleged that the local newspapers from his region had frustrated his legal and constitutional right to respond to allegations about him personally by some of his accusers. Had he taken that matter further?

Ms Mokwele asked Ms Campbell whether the specifications of the original, T29/2014 tender of Nissan Knysna for the supply of vehicles and equipment which had gone missing, had been similar in the re-advertised later tender.

The Chairperson asked whether there had been any official charge and investigations by the Knysna South African Police Services (SAPS) into the loss of those T29/2014 tender documents.

Ms Campbell replied that the MM position had been advertised twice. In the re-advertisement, Mr Easton had then applied and the Committee that shortlisted and interviewed the candidates consisted of the Mayor, her DM, the chief whip of the ANC and Mr Werner Zybrands who was supposed to be an independent. The only redeeming feature of Mr Easton’s was that he scored higher in the interviews which Ms Campbell questioned as Mr Easton had worked daily with the Mayor and her DM since the DA had run Knysna. In fact the DM was the Portfolio Councillor for Finance when Mr Easton was the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of KM.

The KM was to date wholly governed by the DA.

In terms of current legislation once a senior manager or director or a MM was appointed; within 14 days those proceedings of appointment had to be sent to the MEC for local Government, which was MEC Bredell. Concerning for Ms Campbell was that all the documentation given to the MEC showed that Mr Easton was foreign and his qualifications had not been verified. Stranger was that in January 2014 it had been shown that it would take 6 weeks to verify Mr Easton’s qualification but that had not been done in April 2014 when he was appointed and MEC Bredell never questioned all of that. Legally as well, a candidate with unverified qualifications was not supposed to be shortlisted. On the second round of shortlisting, a black candidate with a PHD in Public Administration was overlooked.

On the issue of the disappearance of the T29/2014 tender documents, Ms Campbell said that the fleet manager had examined the tender documents after the tenders had been opened. Mysteriously thereafter the T29/2014 documents went missing. The tender was then cancelled so that in the new tender, one or two specifications had changed. What had preceded that since 2011 when the preferential procurement regulations, had been changed was that KM would score tenders on price and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBB-EE). Thereafter KM would look if there was a local company that was within 11% of a tender above R1 million and 25% of a tender below R1 million. Regardless of whether that company had any BBB-EE points or whether it was a 100% white owned: KM would then award that tender to a local company illegally disregarding preferential procurement regulations.

There had been numerous such tenders that even the AGSA had pointed out to KM and with T29/2014, KM had wanted to buy from Nissan Knysna at higher prices than a Nissan in Cape Town with cheaper prices. Only in 2015 did the legal manager advise KM that what it wanted to repeat in terms of fleet acquisition was illegal.

Ms Campbell said that she did not work with Mr Hampton however; she had attended a ward Committee meeting where the ex-MM Waring had publically bragged to the ward councillors that the KM had blocked Mr Hampton’s e-mails. She had then approached the DA ward councillors afterwards where she had enquired whether they knew that KM administration had blocked Mr Hampton’s e-mails. The response she had received was that the DA was aware and was in support of that motion as Mr Hampton was insulting in his e-mails. Ms Campbell had told the councillor that it was acceptable to block someone who was harassing you on your personal e-mail but it was not proper for Mr Hampton to be blocked from the KM e-mails. Therefore it was not an allegation by Mr Hampton only as ex-MM Waring had bragged about the matter.

She said that the ISDF tender investigation had been conducted by the WCPT. The report from that investigation had been signed off by MEC Bredell. The end paragraph of the original letter was that:”deficiencies in the process didn't influence the outcome of the process”. Ms Campbell had written to the MEC, the Mayor and WCPT on why the MEC’s rationale was completely against logic and unacceptable. Mr Graham Paulse, who had received the copy of her letter to the Mayor and MEC Bredell, advised her, that upon receipt of “Annexure A”, he realised that the wrong letter had been accidentally signed by MEC Bredell and sent to the Mayor. A new letter of the same content without the paragraph was then sent to KM from the MEC Bredell’s office.

Ms Campbell said that Mr Mike Maughan-Brown, Director Planning at KM had been a town planner in private practice. At the time of his private practice he had objected to the SDF. When he became a director he basically oversaw the appointment of all the objectors of the SDF to the review of the new SDF.

When eventually the ISDF report was released to Ms Campbell through the PP, and to the Mayor, the Mayor had not taken it back to council. However, she released a press statement to the effect that everything was fine and KM would proceed with the ISDF.    

Mr Hampton said there was never a SAPS investigation into the loss of the T29/2014 tender documents; to his knowledge. That was one of the issues he needed answers to.

On the appointment of the MM, he said that it had been interesting that Mayor Georlene Wolmarans had said in council that Mr Easton could not be appointed, until KM had received the full report of the ISDF investigation. The only implication from that was that Mr Easton needed to be cleared of any irregularity regarding the ISDF. When MEC Bredell sent her a summary of that report, and that was in conflict of the issue of a wrong letter being sent which needed editing before being resent again. Despite Mayor Wolmarans not receiving the full report she went ahead and appointed Mr Easton as MM at the following council meeting.   

Mr Hampton said he had electronic evidence to show he had contacted both the DA and ANC with very little responses from both parties. He had also contacted COGTA where he had received a response concerning the payments of studies for Mr de Vries and Mr Clive Witbooi who were both councillors. COGTA had said those payments had been illegal. That had been sent to both parties and KM, but as usual he had been ignored.

Mr Hampton said he had contacted AGSA regarding KT where he had had a meeting with the AGSA even before AGSA had started the process of investigating KT. However, AGSA later informed him that it was not within its mandate to investigate KT.

Regarding the PP, he submitted that all that was needed was perusal of his report to the PP of his evidence concerning KT, perusal of the ex-MM’s letter to the PP where she lied and then perusal of the letter where the PP accepted the lie. As much as he was a fan of Ms Thuli Madonsela, the local PP office in George was a matter that he had reported to Ms Madonsela’s office where very little action had taken place since. 

Mr Hampton said he had faced all his court cases without a lawyer as he could not afford one. His evidence on the civil suit regarding the former CEO of KT had been totally rejected on a technicality pertaining to him not listing the evidence properly.

Mr Mohapi interjected that the State provided for legal aid; had Mr Hampton attempted to seek help from that institution?

The Chairperson broadened the question to find out whether Mr Hampton had not used legal aid because he did not want to.

Mr Hampton said that legal aid went to Knysna once a month and that was not enough time to build a case. Moreover the day of his court case, legal aid had not gone at all to Knysna. When he had contacted the head of legal aid in George he had found no joy in the exercise.

 

Mr Michaelakis asked that the petitioner be made to withdraw the statement that the questions from the DA were an attempt to discredit him. That statement inferred that Mr Michaelakis could not be impartial in his Committee work and that he was personally attacking Mr Hampton.

Mr Hampton reiterated that questions to do with his court cases had nothing to do with the merits of what he just submitted to the Committee. 

Ms Mokwele interjected that Mr Hampton only had to answer non personal questions as it had become apparent from his submissions that he was accusing the DA.

The Chairperson reiterated Ms Mokwele’s assertion that Mr Hampton had to focus on only questions related to his submission.

Mr Michaelakis interjected on a point of order that he had not raised personal matters with Mr Hampton and that Committee rules and plenary rules maintained that a personal attack on the integrity on any Member of Parliament (MP) was not allowed and such statements had to be withdrawn.

The Chairperson asked Mr Hampton to do as Mr Michaelakis had requested.

Mr Hampton withdrew his statements unconditionally and proceeded that he had contacted even the Congress of the People (COPE) regarding his submission to the Committee. Most correspondence had of course been directed to the DA as it was the majority in his municipality.

 

Ms T Wana (ANC; Eastern Cape) asked for guidance from the Chairperson as she felt that Mr Hampton was being questioned as if he was in a court of law. Seemingly questions were not all clarity seeking and the Chairperson had to rule on that.

Regarding his blocking by newspapers, Mr Hampton had told his local newspapers that he would be taking them to the ombudsman.

He said that he had been found guilty of defamation in one of his court appearances.  All the applicants that were saying he was defaming their characters and harassing them were all represented by the same lawyer. This was intimidation.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Hampton saying that any further questions to him would be relayed via the secretary electronically.

Mr Hampton thanked the Committee as he had been working on the matters for five years.

 

WCPT submission on the ISDF tender investigation

Mr Michael Brewis, LGEADP, Director said that the bulk of the issues presented by Ms Campbell and Mr Hampton were for the KM. The province had a mandate on the ISDF and the appointment of the MM. As the provincial administration, they were pleading with the Committee to respond to some of the matters raised in writing as it would be a challenge to respond to all of them considering the time limitations.

The Chairperson asked Mr Brewis how much time he envisaged the province would need to reply in writing?

Mr Brewis replied that the Committee would have to guide him.

The Chairperson asked if a week was enough for the province to put together their response.

Mr Brewis replied that that would be too little time as the response from the province was quite detailed and substantive.

Ms Wana said that she would propose three weeks be given to the WCPG starting from that day to respond to the submissions. Additionally, the Committee would require a detailed account of the provincial responses as per financial year when there were audit queries. Finally she was proposing that that written response be presented orally and per presentation to the Committee so that it could be deliberated at the end of the three weeks she was proposing.

Ms Mokwele agreed with Ms Wana about the content of what had to be included in the written responses however, she was proposing that the deadline for submission be two weeks instead, as she believed that the information was readily available but really need collation only.

Mr Mohapi asked for clarity from the Chairperson on what the brief in the invitation to the WCPT and LGEADP had said about their reason to come before Parliament.

The Chairperson replied that the invitation to both provincial departments included the petitions as had been read. However, members had to recall that the petition of that day had had a timeline attached to it such that as the Chairperson; he would allow the two departments to submit the response in two weeks time as specified by Ms Wana.

Ms Wana reminded the Committee that if the timeline was moved back to two weeks then the Committee would meet the two departments in Knysna.

Mr Mohapi said he was not disputing anything however, if the petitioners and the departments had been given documents prior to the meeting how was it that the departments were not prepared to respond? The Committee had to be careful of setting a precedent where people knowingly did not prepare for discussions when in fact they had been notified in time on what the discussions would entail.

The Chairperson said the Committee had agreed on the 14 days for the province to compile a response however, he would allow the departments to comment on a few issue.

Mr Brewis said that to be honest he had received one of the petitions the night before the Committee sat and the other one two days before the sitting. They were also informed late that the meeting had been moved back to the morning instead of the afternoon.

He also maintained that the province could only respond to matters within its mandate. Therefore on AGSA findings on of irregularities at KM, the Committee would have to request that documentation from KM.

Mr Mohapi commented that the clarity the Committee had just received was important.  Therefore it was equally unacceptable for the departments to have received the petitions 72 hours ago and that was a point that Mr Michaelakis generally lamented that repeatedly and that internal matter had to be looked into as it was tantamount to wasteful expenditure.

Ms Wana reiterated that whoever would be compiling the written submission had to present it personally so that the Committee could engage that person on the day.

Mr Estienne Pretorius, WCPT, Head said that his department had not even been notified about the change of times for the meeting. He said that soon after Dr Ivan Meyer was appointed MEC Finance in the WC, ex-MEC Winde informed the current MEC that the Mayor of KM had requested an investigation into the ISDF tender.

Ms Wana interjected that she was proposing that the two presentations from the two departments had to be prepared for 19 February as the members did not have copies of what Mr Pretorius was presenting.

Ms Mokwele also interjected that if WCPT was ready the Committee could allow Mr Pretorius to present.

Mr Pretorius continued that WCPT recommended to MEC Bredell who was the lead agent in terms of the MFMA to put together a provincial task team to investigate the ISDF. The task team included officials from LGEADP, the provincial internal legal services as well as the head of Procurement in the WCPT, Mr Isaac Smith who was present at the petition meeting. The task team had gone to Knysna and interviewed a wide array of witnesses.

The Chairperson interjected asking Mr Pretorius if WCPT had a written presentation it could give to members. At Mr Pretorius response that there was no presentation at that time the Chairperson requested WCPT to also prepare a written response of the presentation it was making.

Ms Mokwele reiterated that the Committee could allow the oral presentation from Mr Pretorius if he felt confident to respond.

Mr Pretorius said that at the conclusion of the interviews which had included Ms Campbell the task team had submitted a report to LGEADP. LGEADP had made those documents available to KM at that time and KM contested that report providing information that the task team had not been privy to at the beginning of the investigation on the ISDF tender. Those included KM local procurement policy and other matters, which led to some of the deficiencies which the task team had identified, been attended to by KM. Since then LGEADP has been engaging KM on the ISDF issues and the work was ongoing as far as Mr Pretorius understood.

Recently the PP had contacted Mr Pretorius and he got the impression that the office of the PP was preparing to investigate the matter or wanted to determine whether there were any merits for an investigation.

He reminded the Committee that SCM was quite complex because it was continually changing as there had been regulatory changes to the SCM legislative framework in 2015. MEC Meyer and Mr Brewis had arranged a workshop where all SCM officials of all municipalities in the WC had been trained to address the challenges in SCM compliance. KM had also attended that workshop in November 2015 where many of the contentious issues in the ISDF had been raised and deliberated.

Mr Pretorius added that although councillors themselves did not participate in the actual procurement exercise, WCPT had offered through Mayor Wolmarans that its officials could conduct a training session on SCM for all political party representatives on the council. That work was envisaged to happen late in 2016 as the arrangements were still underway.

There was no final provincial position on the ISDF but from a procurement angle, WCPT had pointed out the deficiencies in the ISDF process and Mr Pretorius undertook to find where the PP was heading with its investigation by the 19 February 2016.

Mr Mohapi wanted clarity on when the challenges with the ISDF process were reported to the WCPT; had there been any timelines set for finalisation of the investigation or were they never set?

What were the specific challenges in procurement if the WCPT was opting to embark on an SCM workshop with all 30 municipalities of the province?

What had been the exact deficiencies which the task team had identified and how had they been resolved?

What had been the rationale in interviewing Ms Campbell and what were the task teams findings on what she had been raising?

Mr Mohapi said that Ms Campbell had alleged that since 2011 there had been quite a number of irregularities regarding the tendering processes at KM: Had the WCPT only investigated in 2015 on the ISDF? Had it not been aware of the alleged irregularities in tendering processes before then?

If councillors were not involved directly in procurement where did WCPT locate the quarterly SCM reports that were supposed to be presented to council in terms of ensuring that councillors played their oversight responsibilities on procurement? 

On AGSA findings pertaining to irregularities at KM; where did WCPT locate those AGSA findings in that regard, if councillors had no role in procurement oversight?

Ms Wana said that the barrage of questions from her colleague went directly to her request about a full briefing with a presentation however; she was interested in the terms of reference of the task team that had been sent to KM to investigate the ISDF. 

Mr Pretorius said that regarding terms of reference; the WCPT did not have an open mandate to investigate anything in any municipality. Therefore in KM and the ISDF, the terms of reference were derived from the written request by Mayor Wolmarans.

Mr Mohapi rose on a point of order disputing what Mr Pretorius was saying regarding terms of reference.  

Mr Pretorius interjected reiterating that the Mayor’s written request for an investigation determined the terms of reference by the task team.  WCPT had also asked its internal legal services to derive a terms of reference for its task team using the written request.

The Chairperson asked Mr Pretorius to submit those terms of reference as part of the written response by WCPT for 19 February 2016.

The request to investigate by Mayor Wolmarans was in May 2014 but he could not recall that a timeline had been set for the conclusion of that work. However the matter had been urgent as the tender had already been awarded.

Mr Mohapi interjected that it was February 2016 and that two financial years could have concluded already. It was impossible to appoint a task team without stipulating a timeline for the work to be completed.

The Chairperson calmed Mr Mohapi down reminding him that the terms of reference would be submitted and the matter he was raising could possibly be answered therein however; he pleaded with the Committee to not be tempted to engage on oral representations by WCPT.

Mr Mohapi concurred with the Chairperson however; he maintained that individuals invited to come before the Committee were not privileging the Committee with their presence but were there as per constitutional obligation. Presentation before the Committee was taken as someone taking an oath of honesty. Therefore if an individual was not certain about their facts they could request to submit written responses rather than thumb suck or avoid responding.

Mr Pretorius continued responding that the task team was set-up in the third quarter of the 2014/15 financial year and the WCPT had concluded its assessments including the interviews by the end of that financial year. The first letter to KM from LGEADP was in December 2014 if he remembered correctly. Thereafter, there were many engagements between KM and LGEADP.  WCPT acknowledged that there had been administrative mistakes as alluded to by Ms Campbell earlier and those delayed matters for a while. The task teams report to KM was just a recommendation eventually, as it was a different sphere of government from provincial treasury and therefore it was not enforceable.

Mr Mohapi said that Mr Pretorius’s statements were very tempting if he was saying WCPT could not instruct a municipality. That statement had to be heard together with relation to section 154 (1) of the SA constitution that provided that; (1) provincial and national Government had a responsibility to strengthen the capacity of a municipality and also monitor. When someone monitored that person was not a spectator. Mr Pretorius had to recall that as he was from the province, the Committee was at national but they were dealing with a matter at local Government. By virtue of subscription to a unitary democracy the Chairperson had to remind the officials from provincial government that even when responding they had to try to strike a balance with the constitutional provisions as outlined, as SA was not federal. That all related to section 40 (1) ‘the three spheres of Government are distinct but are interdependent and interrelated’.

The Chairperson said that all that Mr Mohapi was raising was the matter of concurrency between the three spheres. Specifically the matter of the appointment of the MM of KM which the petitioners had alleged that WCPG had simply refused to investigate though the MFMA required that WCPG had obligations in terms of budgeting for such appointments. 

Mr Mohapi interjected some more saying section 139 in the constitution said that the province had an obligation, particularly the MEC for LGEADP whenever there were challenges in a particular municipality. The MEC could intervene and even include National Government as well. Section 106 of the Municipal System Act stipulated that whenever there were allegations of maladministration, fraud or corruption in a municipality, the MEC for LGEADP had an obligation to intervene as well. Mr Pretorius had to be careful of making contentious statements

Mr Pretorius said that that was precisely why he had alluded to the SCM workshops which WCPT had rolled out across all the municipalities of the WCPG. He certainly was not disputing nor discounting the oversight role of councillors which was why WCPT had offered to do SCM training for councillors in 2016 as well. 

The Chairperson said that the WCPG officials had to be alerted to the fact that Mr Mohapi was the Chairperson of the Select Committee on COGTA and therefore he had a direct interest in the petition.

Mr Mohapi reminded the Chairperson that he was still awaiting a response to his question on the list of deficiencies that were found by the task team. Additionally what had been the findings of the interview done with Ms Campbell? If there were no ready responses they could always be included in the written submission.

Mr Pretorius asked that the WCPT be allowed to submit that list of deficiencies with the written submission otherwise as Ms Campbell was in possession of the full report of the task team WCPT could not withhold it from the Committee. Ms Campbell had approached WCPT at some stage making representations but she was referred to MEC Bredell’s office. However, as there was an interest by WCPT, MEC Meyer insisted that the task team give Ms Campbell an audience which was why she had been interviewed.

Closing remarks

The Chairperson said he was concerned that KM had not come to the meeting though it had been invited. The Committee would have to summon KM somehow because it had to account as accounting to Parliament was a constitutional mandate of the Committee. It was important for parties to come and tell their sides of a story which they were implicated in. He apologised to everyone for the administrative inconveniences of time changes and late documents distribution.

Mr Pretorius interjected that the WCPG understood the time frame it had been given by the Committee but the Committee also had to know that the officials present there had principals which they reported to and the fact that it was budget time in LGEADP and for WCPT, the environment was quite challenging. He pleaded with the Committee to extend that timeframe by another week at least so that the two departments would submit on 26 February instead.

The Chairperson said he would not change the timeframe but would instead rely on Mr Pretorius communicating with the Committee secretary any reasons for a delay if it arose.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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