Brief Look at WhistleBlower Kesson’s time in the City

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Grant Haskin is a seasoned politician. He has served as an MPL in the Western Cape legislature. He served as Deputy Mayor when the African Christian Democratic Party was in coalition with the Democratic Alliance in the City of Cape Town. Now he leads the ACDP caucus on the city council. He has had quite a few things to say about the public spat between the City of Cape Town’s executive director in the directorate of the mayor and chief resilience officer Craig Kesson, and the Mayor Patricia de Lille. Haskin plots Kesson’s time at the city administration – where he is now a top official, some say more important than the city manager. Kesson faces the possibility of being suspended today. The Cape Messenger editor reports what Haskin has to say about it all

Haskin has what he says is “a brief look” at Craig Kesson’s short time in the City so far.

The City’s Executive Director: Directorate of the Mayor, Craig Kesson has made multiple serious allegations against the Mayor, City Manager and the ED (Commissioner) of Transport and Urban Development Authority. These are now well publicised.
These allegations arise directly out of the ED post he holds.

In his affidavit, the ED: DOM confirms he was appointed in December 2016 for a probationary period. He was the only one recommended, out of over 40 applicants, we are told.

• In March 2017 (eight months ago) he was also appointed Chief Resilience Officer – heading up, inter alia, the City’s water crisis response. The Mayor’s media statement at the time confirms “He has fulfilled a number of senior strategy, policy, management and communication roles during his six years in the City’s administration. He has also advised a number of metro governments” (the DA Mayors of NMBM, Tshwane and Johannesburg). “His specialisations are in public policy and strategy, project portfolios and operations modelling. I am pleased that council has endorsed Craig’s appointment as CRO. We have high expectations of the CRO. Craig has impressive abilities to align strategy with implementation, monitoring, and evaluation and hence I am confident that he will be able to institutionalise improved resilience responses into the City administration.”

• On 27 July 2017 he was appointed for a 5-year term as Director of Policy and Strategy – in the Office of the Mayor (5 months ago).

• His ED: DOM post also puts him in charge of Risk and Ethics, Forensics, Internal Audit and the City Ombudsman. Essentially, he is responsible for clean corporate governance in the City.

• He also drove the restructuring of the City (the so-called ODTP) since August 2016

• He and the Mayor have co-authored a book titled “View From City Hall” (just over 2 months ago).…/view-from-city-hall-reflect…
that was launched on 18 September 2017, wherein I’m told she commends him repeatedly, and Kesson confirms that at the very-public book launch she publicly praised his principles and ethical standards.

Haskin points out: That’s how much confidence the Mayor and City Manager had in him consistently – but only until these allegations surfaced. 

Now that he has basically forced his allegations to surface and wouldn’t allow them to be smothered, in a 42 page affidavit excluding attachments, in a laughable yet serious about-turn the Mayor and City Manager accuse him of “displaying a lack of understanding of local government…of the applicable legal and policy framework, delegations and processes…leaking and/or causing to leak confidential information…and that he has raised “frivolous and vexatious allegations …without any evidentiary basis”.

These accusations and others form the theme of four of the six confidential reports (since made public) that served before the City council in its Strictly Confidential and closed council meeting this last Tuesday (21 November 2017), all written by the City Manager and approved for submission to Council by the Mayor.

Haskin adds: The Deputy Mayor (Ian Neilson) agreed with us (the ACDP caucus members) that Kesson should have been, but was not, given an opportunity to defend himself to the City council, and since his affidavit was not provided to council until after the meeting, we as the ACDP caucus have asked that they both – the mayor and the city manager – be investigated for trying to mislead council and acting against the City’s whistle-blower policy.

In mid-November the City’s Head of Probity, who reports directly to Craig Kesson, was suspended (related to this lot), but not by him as her boss. At her pre-suspension hearing he was present to represent her and he was her main witness.

Blue-eyed boy turns into bad sensationalist

Now the Mayor, Haskin points out, is slamming him publicly: “As it pertains to the affidavit‚ this is a malicious attempt to attack my integrity and track-record as a whistle-blower and corruption fighter in South Africa‚” said De Lille. She referred to the affidavit as “sensation”.…/2017-11-23-de-lille-slams-at…/

On the face of it, this is at once a story of a ‘blue eyed boy’ who found rot, and courageously reported it as a whistle-blower instead of ignoring it; a story about how quickly one can fall politically from favour; a confirmation of how unprotected City whistle-blowers are even though the City is compelled to encourage and protect them in terms of its own policy; and a story of how quickly the Mayor forgets the treatment she herself was subjected to, when the shoe is on the other foot: “I was vilified, called names… I was called a useless idiot. I was followed wherever I went and even had a list of car registrations next to me as I was driving to check who’s following me,” she told the commission in Pretoria.…/N…/I-was-vilified-De-Lille-20140724

How shocking, sad and concerning this all is. I trust that the investigation will proceed efficiently with no hindrances, and that the report with findings will be tabled without fear or favour.

Haskin says: “The truth must be told.”


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