Instead of hiring him, the Municipality re-advertised the position saying that they wished an equity appointment i.e. a black or coloured person. This made sense since Knysna Municipality is far behind on its equity goals.
Despite that, the previous candidate was allowed to re-apply which only made sense when Grant Easton, the white CFO of Knysna Municipality, applied too (sense because they had to find a way to allow him the post). Effectively, they seem to have chosen Easton before the position was advertised because it’s the most likely way this could have being permitted to happen. For half a year, i’d been saying that Easton would be appointed as it was the best way for the politicians and municipality to keep a lid on questionable activities.
Additionally, the advertised position of Municipal Manager stipulates that applicants must be able to speak two of the three main languages – Grant Easton only knows one. Legally, they have to stick 100% to the requirements. They didn’t.
Despite this, Mayor Georlene Wolmarans tabled her motion to appoint him MM. As said in the ISDF blog preceding this, she was forced to withdraw it after her DA caucus rebelled. Publicly, she stated that she was withdrawing her motion until she received the full ISDF report which implied that she was waiting for Easton to be cleared.
Despite this, she re-tabled her motion a few weeks later, having obviously regained the majority in her caucus, and would not answer why she had lied to Council; firstly for the re-advertising of the position for equity reasons; and for her ISDF reasoning. Speaker Eleanore Spies never pressed her to explain and instead called a vote that had the DA majority installing Easton as MM and voting out democracy.
There are a lot of unanswered questions hanging over Easton for his period as CFO:
- The Auditor General has questioned many tenders, fore-mostly R9-million in irregular tenders due to a 10% bonus to local suppliers which circumnavigates BEE.
- The head of the electrical department, Manon MacDonald, was on the tender committee that awarded work to her husband as a private contractor, allegedly over a million rands worth. She has handed in her resignation but there has been no news of investigation.
- A cheque for R498 560 was prepared for Knysna Creative Heads one month before they signed the contract that awarded them the ISDF tender.
- Fancy office upgrades, big screen TVs and DSTV occurred out of budget planning. Half a year later and they have yet to supply the figures to the opposition and the public.
- Two politicians, ANC Chief Whip Stephen de Vries and ANC Councillor Clive Witbooi, are having their studies paid for. De Vries’ second amount was R28 000. The studies are irregular expenditure because they do not benefit Knysna but rather the careers of the politicians involved.
- There were riots by Oupad residents that led to repeated N2 closures. The Knysna Municipality failed to inform us that the main spark was a problem with the T20 tender involving housing, seemingly their fault.
- In November 2014, the majority of the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC) quit in protest. These included the Chairperson Michael Rhode and and Vice-Chairperson Johnathan Mabula who are, respectively, also the Directors of Technical Services and the Manager of Environmental Management. They claimed interference of their responsibilities and the undermining of the Bid Evaluation Committee. This involves senior management so must be treated with the utmost gravity. No director or senior manager could legally be part of a possible investigation because the very problem is between the BEC and the BAC of which they are all members or previous members. It is unclear how it proceeded but a BEC/BAC report and minutes is ready – Municipal Manager Easton, Director Planning & Development Maughn-Brown and Mayor Georlene Wolmarans have not handed it to the opposition councillors nor made it public.
- Before they quit, the Bid Evaluation Committee reported that the tender of Nissan Knysna had gone missing. T29/2014 was for the supply of vehicles and equipment. Lauren Waring’s reaction, at the November 27 2014 Council Meeting, on her last day on the job, was bizarre. She said: “I don’t think this was a mistake. I think this was purposely taken by someone who wanted to discredit our supply chain processes.” She went on to say that there was an internal investigation and, if found warranted, that a charge would be laid at the Knysna police station. Nonsense. This is a very serious matter. Concurrently, there should be an internal investigation AND an SAPS investigation.
- R30-million debt was written off two years ago with the public still being kept in the dark about who benefited.
- R2-million was given to Ward Councillors to do so as they wish in their wards. As none of the projects were designated before budgeting, they become irregular expenditure.
- Easton’s role in the illegal paying of Knysna Tourism’s debt with public funds has already being discussed in Part 2 of this blog.
Read more at ‘Trouble in Knysna 5: Unconstitutional, Illegal, Undemocratic Blocking of Communication’ which will be posted later this afternoon.