/ 31 October 2007

Chaaban removed from council meeting

The Cape Town City council on Wednesday upheld the metro disciplinary committee’s recommendation that leader of the National People’s Party (NPP) Badih Chaaban be expelled as councillor.

Chief whip of the council Anthea Serritslev said a full sitting of council voted in favour of Chaaban’s expulsion.

”The majority of members voted in favour of the disciplinary hearing committee’s decision that Chaaban be expelled from council,” she said.

However, the council’s decision has to be ratified by Western Cape provincial minister of local government Richard Dyantyi for it to be implemented.

According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Chaaban, who was late for the Wednesday sitting, had hardly been in the council chambers for two minutes before six bodyguards were called in to remove him.

The SABC said that Chaaban took exception to Zille’s statement, labelling him a criminal.

Zille’s statement was based on allegations that Chaaban bribed other councillors during the floor-crossing window in order for them to defect to the NPP.

Chaaban immediately retorted that Zille was the real criminal.

‘Utmost contempt’

Earlier this month, a disciplinary committee of the Cape Town city council recommended that Chaaban be removed from office.

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

Serritslev said in a statement at the time that the committee had recommended Dyantyi be asked to axe Chaaban from the council.

Chaaban said 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 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 at the time 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