/ 19 October 2007

Remove Chaaban from office, committee recommends

A disciplinary committee of the Cape Town city council has recommended that controversial councillor Badhi Chaaban be removed from office.

The disciplinary hearings — which Chaaban claimed were a kangaroo court — followed claims that he sought to bribe councillors to cross the floor to his National People’s Party.

Chairperson of the committee Anthea Serritslev said in a statement on Friday that the committee had recommended Western Cape provincial minister of local government Richard Dyantyi be asked to axe Chaaban from the council.

Chaaban said on Friday he would fight the move.

”It’s exactly as when the Nazi Party found the Jews and executed them. It’s exactly the same as when the National Party found [former] president [Nelson] Mandela and convicted him of treason,” he said.

Serritslev said Chaaban had been found guilty on three counts of ”having enticed colleague councillors to resign from their current parties in exchange for gratification”.

This had taken the form of offers of leadership positions, a guarantee of a further two terms as a councillor, assistance with business ventures and, in one case, handing over cash.

He had also made ”derogatory and injurious” statements about mayor Helen Zille and Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille, and racist statements against black and coloured people.

”The committee felt that on entering politics, a certain degree of robustness in conversation is to be expected,” she said.

”However, the statements on which he was found guilty were totally unacceptable in terms of our Constitution.”

Chaaban’s conduct breached the council’s code of conduct, she said.

She said Chaaban had shown no remorse and had a previous conviction within the last year from the same committee for using offensive language towards a colleague.

”The committee had no choice but to recommend the harshest penalty in this matter,” she said.

Chaaban pleaded not guilty to all the charges, challenged the committee’s make-up, then walked out of the proceedings and did not return.

He told the South African Press Association on Friday that his sentiments about the committee remained exactly the same, and its finding deserved the ”utmost contempt”.

”This is a highly politicised matter. I wanted to remove the DA [Democratic Alliance] from power and for that I’m going to get the chop,” he said.

He said he had an ”enormous” cache of funds and also an enormous legal team, and would fight the matter in the courts ”all the way to the top”. — Sapa