The Knysna Council meeting on Thursday, January 28, finally acknowledged the death of municipal employee, Rudolf Kapp, and the injuries of traffic officers, Anthony Bans and Ernest Nqoko a.k.a. Smiley.
In her opening speech, Mayor Georlene Wolmarans mentioned her disapproval of discrimination but that fell on my hollow ears in view of the DA’s election campaign timing of the anti-racism topic (i will give that a blog on its own).
When questioned, she admitted that during the recent holiday season there’d been regular water pipe bursts on the East Head. “With our old infrastructure, these are things that will happen, she said, estimating that R8-million was needed to repair the pipes on the East Head alone.
The meeting was most significant for what it excluded.
Again, the blatantly suspicious absence of the mention that Knysna Municipality officials and politicians are supposed to attend Parliament to hear and respond to my allegations of crime and maladministration. You can read more about that in ‘Knysna Municipality Keeps Parliament Meeting Secret Again’.
Then there was the glaring absence of the obvious questions when it came to the request for more money for the ISDF, the 30-year plan for Knysna that is inaccessibly named the Integrated Strategic Development Framework.
More specifically, at this meeting, was the request for money with regards the community consultation process: “R250 000 to be made available from Planning and Development Project Budget for [ISDF] contract extension.”
The process has become muddy. Arguably, it always was but, with regards this aspect, either Knysna Creative Heads Consortium, the winning tenderer, did a good job or they didn’t. If they did, they wouldn’t need the money. If they did, any future public interaction process would involve them. Contradictory, at the last two Council meetings, R579 000 was requested for different consultants.
“The communication that took place was the single biggest communication exercise this Council has been involved in,” stated Municipal Manager Grant Easton.
But, as was pointed out by the ANC, no draft report has been shown to the public. And when it is, how will poorer communities, the majority of Knysna, have access to it. ANC Chief Whip summed up the request for more money as a “public relations exercise,” meaning that the Knysna Municipality was attempting to placate a public outraged at the ISDF process and how the tender was awarded.
I consider the few words mentioned by Elrick van Aswegen, the COPE councillor, to be further evidence of his recent hypocrisy. He’s always had a lot to say but that he wasn’t seeking answers to questions he’s asked before suggests that his promotion, by the DA, to the MAYCO (Mayoral Committee), has stunted his opposition to them. I wonder if he’s one of the secret candidates the DA is withholding from the public.
However, Peter Myers, a new DA councillor by by-election, may lay claim to being the biggest hypocrite of the day. Myers’ main motive for leaving his position as DA Constituency Chairperson was his shared concern with the public at the ISDF tender awarding process and the subsequent atrocious handing of queries by the Knysna Municipality. Because of that, i haven’t been able to outright condemn Myers for his role in the Knysna Tourism cover-up or as the most public face for the DA’s move to allow public drinking in the holidays. The ISDF, our future, is so important that i had to reserve kudos for Myers if his input steered it in a positive direction.
But in his new role as a politician and sudden rise to the MAYCO through his position as the Chairperson Planning, Infrastructure and Development, he was severely lacking at this meeting, seemingly falling into the party line of support for the ISDF. His change made my belly turn with concern.
“I want to emphasise that possibly this report in front of you isn’t as full as it should be,” said Myers.. “There are some confusing aspects. We are at the end of this ISDF process… a very lengthy process… it was more complex than it was anticipated to be. It does become confusing what money should be spent and on what. The costs covered in the original tender were not fully appreciated. If you study the documents, you will understand why more money is needed.”
De Vries responded with, “We’re playing with words.That’s fine. That’s politics. But this report does not tell us what we must do. Can we get, from the next Section 80 meeting, detail of what has happened. And can we get a copy of the scope of the tender because we are against spending more money we believe that was within the scope of that tender.”
No one asked what for a breakdown of what the R250 000 was for or how the figure had changed from the previous R579 000 previously asked for by Municipal Manager Grant Easton.
Easton was tasked twice by Council to provide answers yet again none were forthcoming. Worse this time is that no one was questioning him on it.
Worse is that i wasn’t sure what the conclusion was. I asked another attendee and they were as confused as me. It’s possible that Knysna Creative Heads, the ISDF tender winners, just got a quarter million rand more.