At the local elections, the town won and the town lost. That could be said for every place in South Africa but the generalisation isn’t what I mean.
August 3 is a question mark. It’s representative of the foggy nature of Knysna’s politics and its accompanying power that claims to be for the people yet seems to be anything but that because it doesn’t explain itself.
- 12 of 19 councillors were replaced.
- 6 of those were from the Democratic Alliance (DA), the winning team made less a team by the removal of 60% of its “clean audit”, flag-waving members.
- 1 extra ward was added.
- 2 extra councillor seats waited to be warmed.
- 3 small parties and 1 independent climbed into Council, adding an uncertain dynamic that never existed the previous term of office.
- The DA had announced victory only to discover that it wasn’t. The rush for the best coalition deal began. The DA were spoiled for choice, capable of offering the lowest trade. No non-DA member would become Mayor, Deputy Mayor or Speaker.
- Velile Waxa, independent after being a brand name in the ANC, became the DA’s partner, gaining himself a seat on the Mayoral Committee (MAYCO).
- 1 big loser. Yes, the African National Congress (ANC). The victory of the smaller parties had to come at another’s loss.
- Council opens and voting begins. The ANC’s loss is emphasised by the Knysna Unity Congress (KUC), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), the Congress of the People (COPE) and the Independent mostly voting with the DA.
August 3 is between 5 years we never understood and 5 years we cannot predict. From history and events it soon spawned, it seemed as if there more parties involved in the struggle for control. It seemed as if there was more than one DA and that the old guard had lost a battle to the newcomers.
Earlier this year, Director Town Planning Mike Maughan-Brown, the second highest ranked municipal employee, quit. He may have given 2 months warning but his action was unexpected. It’s rumoured that his decisions were being questioned at every turn by the incoming DA faction. Acting Director Marlene Boyce took over.
Director Finance Pariksha Gobrie quit after a very short time in office. Although it took the public by surprise, it’d been internally rumoured that she was going to leave because she’d been offered a better job in Johannesburg where her husband was still living. However, it wasn’t presented that way. Instead, she was projected as having left due to DA interference. Her departure became a grand exit in support of Municipal Manager Grant Easton (was it?).
Easton had been under fire. External investigators were digging into his decisions. He clung to office, supported by the ANC and soon departing DA members who prevented a quorum in Council by not appearing or walking out. But when elections were over, the investigation’s results were in. The ANC were outvoted by ex-ANC members such as the KUC and Independent who, by default or intent, exacted revenge on an ANC they felt had betrayed them. Easton was suspended.
What of alleged whistleblower, Budget Manager Avitha Sunkar, whom Easton and Gobrie were attempting to get rid of through a disciplinary hearing? What of the alleged attempt to overpay bonuses to Directors. What of the prime, municipal waterfront property that Maughan-Brown wanted to donate to a private company? What of this writer’s allegations of corruption and maladministration that were submitted to Parliament and, ’til now, 7 months later, still haven’t been mentioned in Council? What’s inside the report into Easton and will the investigation be broadened? Is he innocent or guilty?
Is it true that another Director was illegally appointed, approved by the DA-controlled Council?
IS SHE THE MAYOR OF TRANSPARENCY?
Why is Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who ran an election campaign on communication and transparency, unwilling to answer serious questions publicly?
Why will she not discuss the forensic report into her partner who just became an Eden DA councillor? If there’s nothing to worry about, why not simply put our minds at rest?
If i ask her, will she pursue why Premier Helen Zille met me and did nothing with the evidence she was given?
Why has her election campaign contractor being hired, without tender, to work as the Communications Manager of Knysna? Why did she issue a press release against me, pretending she was being helpful and me difficult, instead of simply explaining what happened?
Is it that the DA she belongs to is the biggest question of all???
Is that why the only three press municipal releases in September, as issued by the new Communications Manager, shone a biased light only on her whilst leaving us in the dark regards everything else?
THE ANC & THE OPPOSITION
Why aren’t the ACDP, COPE and Independent Velile Waxa demanding answers for us? That question is amplified to the ANC and their Chief Whip Victor Malosi who hold most of the opposition seats.
Why have they, like the DA, failed to respond to my ‘Elephants in the Room’ complaint?
Are they servants of the DA or Administration, as the “opposition” from the last term of office seemed to be? If not, when will they step up?
KEEP SWIMMING, KNYSNA
There are too many ‘what ifs’ and ‘what abouts’.
Many days have been politically afire but August 3 is when the tide changed in an unfathomable sea of local power flecked with foam from Cape Town.
How can a citizen wanting to understand what is happening in our town be unreasonable? Isn’t the government supposed to be working for us?
Those who aren’t answering questions must be expecting residents to keep swimming in the dark…
PS: Please support the request for a public meeting with the Mayor and Council by voting at ‘ME, THE MAYOR AND ESPECIALLY YOU‘. DA supporters are illogically fighting against that.