I was in Oudtshoorn yesterday. I wasn’t there to see ostriches. I wasn’t there to visit the Cango Caves, dive with crocodiles or enjoy the 33C sun. I was there to submit a complaint, on behalf of us anything-but-common folk of Knysna, to Parliament.
An extraordinarily positive move by NCOP (National Council of Provinces) has been to take Parliament to the people. It’s often forgotten in our politically manipulated lives that legislation defines the Community as one of the three elements of a municipality, the other two being the Council (politicians) and the Administration (municipal staff). It’s something important that the DA, ANC, COPE and Municipality have deliberately forgotten in Knysna.
NCOP states that, “All three elements are equal to each other but legislation considers the residents of the community to be the core component and provides it with the right to hold their council accountable for complying with its legal obligations.”
Initially, i wasn’t going to go. I had no money and no transport but a last moment decision sparked money being borrowed and a mate taking off work to get me there… yet i almost never got there.
I had worked until 1am and was exhausted when i woke at 4am. I’d prepared a 5000-word complaint which would be 33-minutes long if i was allowed to present it as a speech. It included the topics of the ISDF (30-year plan for our town), the recent Municipal Manager appointment, unconstitutional communication banning and illegal funding/operations of Knysna Tourism. I can’t share the report with you as it includes intimidation tactics of our town’s ‘leaders’ who have launched many court cases against me. Unfortunately, the sub judice rule suggests a zipped mouth lest i give my ‘opponents’ a temporary victory.
Our 5.30am departure became 7.45am because the car wouldn’t start. Just before i was picked up, i read the newspapers which had given their front pages to Helen Zille’s resignation as DA Leader. She was to be one of the speakers that morning, along with other big shots such as the Speaker of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, the SALGA Provincial Chairperson and the Chairperson of the NCOP. It’s a week long affair and, at the end of it, the programme would end with an address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to a formal sitting of the NCOP.
We got to Oudtshoorn late, the car demanding an emergency wheel alignment which became more bad news as ball bearings needed replacing. Whilst we waited, i had to give up on picking up my press credentials and reporting on the speeches to instead have breakfast at a charming restaurant called De Soete Inval Teetuin.
Thereafter, we got the car and i was delivered to the Bridgton Sports Ground where taxis lined up like a second fence around a massive tent that had been erected in One Direction grandeur. The tent was so long that the panelists for the Governance portion of the event, which included Minister Pravin Gordhan (the man i most wanted to meet), were unidentifiable specks in the distance. Thoughtfully, there were big screens nearby but i was unable to clearly hear what was being said.
Surprisingly, as it’s far from Knysna, some people greeted me, recognising me from the internet, but i realised that the chances of being picked out of that mass of humanity to present my allegations was impossible… but after having gone through so much to get there, i had to try.
Staff were friendly and one information officer particularly attentive. She took me to a closed section to chat and explained that i could submit my complaint and evidence as a physical submission and that i’d receive a reference later in the week. We exchanged details. Finishing sooner than expected, my lift, who was on the way back to Knysna, backtracked to fetch me.
The programme “allows NCOP to exercise its constitutional obligation of overseeing the executive. The programme also gives ordinary citizens an opportunity to engage their elected public representatives on issues affecting them.” That’s what the press release said. I was impressed so i’m hoping that’s true. I will, of course, be following up.