How does a simple query into the awarding of a Knysna Municipality contract become a scandal involving me? Hopefully Mayor Eleonore Bouw-Spies and Fran Kirsten, her new Communications Manager, will one day tell me. For now, i will present the law as i know it and surmise how this became a situation.
I’ve well blogged my query into the untendered awarding of the Communications Manager contract to Fran Kirsten. She is the sole owner and permanent staff member of Out There (Pty) Ltd which was also contracted to market the DA election campaign, particularly regarding Mayor Bouw-Spies.
Then Communications Manager Christopher Bezuidenhout gets moved to the Mayor’s office, into a new position that cannot happen as it has yet to be created on local government’s organogram.
This happens whilst the DA is shouting in the media about the ANC adding posts in neighbouring Plettenberg Bay.
The possible conflict of interest is obvious and worth questioning. At the meeting with the Mayor, many unexpected people were telling me all was legal without giving me hard facts. In the week that followed, i was sent more info but never got an answer to the simplest question:
“Please point out the relevant [legal] section that justifies the appointments of Fran Kirsten and Christopher Bezuidenhout?”
Instead, the Mayor issues a press release against me. Too coincidentally, a vicious propaganda campaign starts against me the same day. DA Councillor Dr. Martin Young is involved. The Mayor was aware before the election of his threats to me yet never stopped him becoming her fellow politician.
Our Supply Chain Management law states that any contract R30,000->R200,000 must go out to tender whilst being fairly advertised.
As Bezuidenhout is keeping his managerial salary, this means that Fran Kirsten’s whole payment of R105,000 must suddenly be paid for by the public. It’s fair to ask why the contract never went out to tender.
The Municipal Finance Management Act states that THE EXECUTIVE MAYOR MAY NOT authorise expenditure in terms of section 29 of the Act if the expenditure is the appointment of personnel during the financial year; or (c) would contravene any existing Council policy; or (d) is intended to ratify irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
A deviation is only allowed in an emergency. There has been no emergency. If there was, the Mayor and Speaker Georlene Wolmarans would have called a Special Council Meeting.
When Facebook removed the Mayor’s press release, it was an opportunity to do better. Instead, Fran Kirsten (i’m guessing as she’s in charge of communications) re-posted the press release. Then Speaker Wolmarans liked the post despite me having sent her a complaint (her job requires her to provide oversight over the administration whilst maintaining, investigating if necessary, councillor integrity).
How does this fulfill Mayor Eleonore Bouw-Spies’ election promise of communication and transparency?
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Read the sequel:
‘Emails: Melony Paulsen, Knysna Municipality Legal Adviser’