This is no microcosm that a better person can deal politely with. No sane person should. Regards the ISDF (Integrated Strategic Development Framework), Mayor Georlene Wolmarans stated that this determines Knysna’s future for the next “20 to 30 years”. Although Knysna’s present tense has been so utterly disregarded so as to be scary, it’s nothing compared to a dark future where Knysna’s citizens have no control, or say, over their lives. Considering that the Knysna’s ISDF is a test case for South Africa, maybe every South African should be scared. Not least to mention that the DA is becoming more like the ANC as its power grows.
When the DA took power with the promise of austerity, transparency and an open door policy, there was a collective sigh of relief. Knysna was in trouble. The economic return to reality had shocked the tourist based economy; small businesses closed, the industrial area sunk to 20% occupancy, Main Street gained ghost shops and many citizens emigrated to bigger cities in search of employment. With the national government, under the African National Congress, seemingly ignoring the plight of small towns in the Garden Route, there was a hope for something new. Consequently, that torch was taken from the ANC and given by the public to the DA. The DA loaded a matchbox full of promises…but never lit the torch.
The past 2 years has found the DA and the Knysna Municipality, under Lauren Waring, adopt a “hear no evil, see no evil” attitude. Or is it really? If it were true it would mean that they are incompetent administrators and ill-confident leaders. That raises concern but not as much as if they have deliberately chosen to forsake the public for their egos and growing salaries. And certainly not if they chose big business over the “little people” who they are suppose to serve.
None of the major bones of contention have been dealt with! They were repeatedly warned of the severe maladministration of Knysna Tourism yet allowed it to run into the red despite starting on a R2million surplus budget. They tried to pin the blame on then CEO Shaun van Eck but it’s not blame when you find him guilty yet pay him his salary for months of absence and then bolster it with another 3 months paycheck to leave. It’s not blame when not one member of the Tourism Board, the meant to be check-and-balance that included Municipal Manager Lauren Waring, Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, Deputy Mayor Esme Edge and Speaker Michelle Wasserman, was addressed for the blatant role they played in damaging what may have been the most important organisation in this tourist town. 11 months later, there is still no CEO. 28 months later they’ve still refused to supply a detailed budget of who got paid what. And no one is mentioning the alleged tender frauds which found some Knysna companies scoring big time whilst the majority suffered.
Then there’s the ‘holidays’ that they refuse to answer questions about. At the public expense, Lauren Waring flew to France on behalf of a twinning agreement that has gained nothing for Knysna in years. She then extended her trip into a vacation. Glendyrr Fick flew to Jamaica on behalf of the 80+ Rastafari of Knysna. A Rural Tourism Study Tour was the excuse and no one thought to mention that only 1% of Jamaica’s population is in fact Rastafari. The locals she represented were not informed of the costs (they have never been informed of the monies spent on them over the years). If they had been, its guaranteed that they would have found better use for it. Lucky her got a stop over in New York too. Shaun van Eck allegedly lied about her trip, saying it was sponsored when it wasn’t. Glendyrr Fick has since been promoted to General Manager of Knysna Tourism.
Then there was the mysterious dismissal of Johnny Douglas. Mysterious because, as Muncipal Manager, he was complimented by Mayor Georlene Wolmarans for the good job he’d done and then dismissed immediately with a fat payoff in his back pocket. They have never answered questions on that one.
The list goes on but the emphasis must be on the DA’s and the Knysna Municipality’s “hear no evil, see no evil” approach. For that to be true, they’d have to be stupid but, unfortunately, they are anything but that which means that they have deliberately made decisions against Knysna’s best interests. So much wrong in only 2 and a half years. In turn, that poses the question, “Are they evil?”
Read part 2, ‘Are They Evil?’