“We will fight them tooth and nail for the best interests of Knysna.
We will carry on ’til midnight if we have to!”
– Elrick van Aswegen (Knysna COPE)
The best the Opposition has looked like opposition in the Knysna Council chambers (and the first time i’ve known them to achieve anything) in 3 years wasn’t any credit to them. The ANC, COPE and one Independent had the untimely death of DA councillor, Magda Williams, to thank for looking so cool.
The DA was unable to pass the 2014/2015 budget with Williams, the ex-Ward 5 councillor, absent. Although they carried majority by one, the Speaker (Michelle Wasserman) is not allowed to cast a deciding vote when the matter involves the budget. This gave the opposition their first opportunity to negotiate because, until now, they’d always been outvoted (matters are never voted on according to simple right and wrong, but always as whole, whether as a political party or a coalition.)
“There are serious issues that need to be discussed, especially regards our respective wards. We will debate all day and all night if we have to.”
– Ntombizanele Sopeki
(Independent in ‘coalition’ with ANC & COPE)
I predicted to several people that the easiest appearance of a win would be for them to increase the budget for their ward projects. Although only a fraction of the R610million budget, it allows local politicians autonomy and makes them look good to their constituents. Last year, they were allocated R200 000 each and the results were advertised, at great expense, on a regular basis in Action Ads, Knysna’s biggest classifieds. This year, the DA and Grant Easton, the Director of Finance, had dropped the allotment by half. The Opposition had griped at the previous Council meeting so it was a no-brainer what was going to happen.
Except there was a quirk in the tale when Knysna Municipality later issued a press statement as if it were Georlene Wolmarans’ idea:
“The very successful ward project system in conjunction with Councillors and Ward committees will be repeated for the third year. Wolmarans said that there will be changes going forward. ‘For 2014/15, the amount allocated to capital projects in wards will remain at R200 000 per ward.'”
I don’t know what else was negotiated as Stephen de Vries (ANC), Ntombizanele Sopeki (Independent) and Elrick van Aswegen (Knysna COPE) never responded to my query. But considering the strong words they’d used to describe how they would fight for a fairer budget, it was laughable that negotiations lasted only 3 and a half hours.
That would suggest that either they’re the nicest guys in town, the best negotiators of all time, are working for the DA, or agree that the DA presented an awesome budget.
I’d thought politics to be serious, allowed it to even stress me out. How wrong i was. It’s funnier than Trevor Noah!