Knysna Tourism’s service is part of the Knysna Municipality, the starting point being the Constitution, 1996-Schedule 4, Part A that designates Tourism as a “functional area of concurrent national and legislative competence.” Part B states that “The following local government matters to the extent set out in section 155(6)(a) and (7): Local Tourism.” [KT01, KT02].
From the Constitution, one goes down to Provincial Legislation and thereafter to Local Government Legislation to looks at competencies and where tourism falls. Tourism falls under the competencies of a municipality. Whether one outsources or makes it semi-private or public private participation does not matter – it falls under the Public Sector and that means it is the municipality’s responsibility. They cannot get away from that.
Knysna Tourism only exists because of a Service Level Agreement with Knysna Municipality [KT03] who pays it more than R4-million of taxpayers’ money annually, its primary funding which is in the form of a grant-in-aid. Despite the MFMA applying whereever the money may go, there have been no contracts or tenders with the majority of suppliers. The organisation ran into debt 4 years in a row [KT04a, KT04b, KT05, KT06 and KT07] and was bailed out each time by the grant-in-aid – it is illegal to fund debt with public funds.
The seriousness of the situation is amplified by the politicians on the Board of Directors that was supposed to be held ultimately responsible for the organisation. Problems were swept under the rug with over R200 000 spent on court fees [KT08] and the ex-CEO, who was found guilty of four charges of gross misconduct (each a dismissable offence), was given a R270 000 farewell handshake after signing a non-disclosure agreement [KT09, KT10]. For almost 2 years, the organisation was run without a CEO, controlled by a few Board members headed by their Chairman, Greg Vogt. It was illegal for the Chairman to act as an Executive [KT11].
At my request, the Public Protector contacted then Municipal Manager Lauren Waring who would not help as, according her, Knysna Tourism was a private company [KT12]. The Public Protector accepted that whilst knowing that she was being deliberately misleading because, as said, Knysna Tourism’s existence was and is dependent on taxpayers’ money. Additionally, the Board of Directors includes or included the DA Deputy Mayor, DA Speaker, other DA councillors, the ANC Chief Whip and the MM herself. Furthermore, Grant Easton, the CFO for Knysna Municipality and now the new MM, was on Tourism’s Financial Sub-committee. The minutes of a meeting in February 2013, at which Easton was present, states that public funds would cover its debt [KT13a, KT13b].
Note that the only grant-in-aid that Knysna Municipality’s Grant-in-Aid committee doesn’t assess is that of Knysna Tourism’s. Consequently, it is a serious breakdown in the Supply Chain Management.
The organisation even received it’s grant-in-aid when it was in contravention of it’s Service Level Agreement with the Municipality, failing to spend 20% of its funds on development. Instead, consultants benefited of which one was Greg Vogt, then Chairman of the Board [KT14a, KT14b]. The Office Manager is being paid a salary from the development fund.
Vogt is now CEO, granted the position by a panel that included his fellow Board members, MM, the ANC Chief Whip and his Deputy Chair. The process included Dirk Joubert, a consultant who worked with him, and earned funds from Tourism under him [that consultant was initially paid for by Knysna Municipality, allegedly with no tender having gone out – KT15]. It was further a controversial move considering Knysna is a tourist town and Vogt was and is under investigation for abuse of animals at the Knysna Elephant Park [K16] i.e. it made no sense unless it was to perpetuate cover-up. The public officials involved had a clear conflict of interest as they were all culpable for Tourism’s losses too. His appointment prevented accountability.
Edge got promoted to Deputy Mayor and Easton, the Finance Director, became MM last week.
MEC Alan Winde and Premier Helen Zille would not help [KT17a/b]. The lack of co-operation and hindrance is extensive and will be discussed in section 5 of this complaint.
The Knysna Oyster Festival is the largest, and by far the richest, event of the year yet we know little about it. Who exactly benefits from the money? How much is paid in salaries, particularly to the Cape Town based company, Worldsport which manages it? Why is it audited separately to Knysna Tourism which owns the brand? Why did Councillor Richard Dawson and ex-Board member lie in his affidavit to the High Court that the Municipality has “nothing to do with it”. How can the public not know what is happening with the biggest tourist event in our tourist based economy?
Additionally, it’s liquor licence was illegal last year. The Western Cape Education Board confirmed it yet the Head of the Liquor Board refused to do anything about it and CCied Ministers, something that, along with his tone, i took as intimidation. I’m not treated normally even when querying a liquor licence. They have truly erected a wall around me.
Knysna Tourism, as an organisation, is in crisis. Apparently they’re again short on money. 4 Directors recently quit within a month. Equity directors are failing to turn up to meetings. Allegedly, one ex-director and others with inside knowledge are preparing to submit for the alleged Tourism tender that has not yet being advertised.
I have attached my extensive responding affidavit and evidence to the harassment charge laid against me by Tourism’s CEO. That will provide you far deeper insight into the matter.
Read more at ‘Trouble in Knysna 3: Selling Knysna’s Future?’.