As expected, Part 1 of Dear Helen Zille, You’re My Disappointment, enraged some who were loud on Facebook. It’s telling that no critic commented on the letter itself. It shows bias.
And playing me instead of the political issues is an easy way to pretend that I never said: “If you are DA, I ask you to strive towards making your party more honest so that you vote for what you believe in rather than against what you are scared of.” Small town factor also comes into play i.e. it’s sometimes whose friends or neighbours with who rather than a choice between right and wrong.
The simple question you all should be asking is: “IF THEY HAD NOTHING TO HIDE, THEN WHY DID THEY HIDE?” There should also be the realisation that it’s YOUR money and the health of YOUR town. With so much delay and lying, they have been given an extraordinary amount of time to cover their misdeeds.
One of my main goals is to make you think for yourself. Thankfully, even if you’re fearful, a LOT of you (66 as of this morning) shared Part 1 anonymously via the FB button on this website – a BIG thank you to those ladies and gentlemen!
And the biggest goal is accountability. Helen Zille needs to jump in and sort the lowly politicians in her party who are breaking the DA’s and SA’s constitutions. The ANC needs to step in and unearth why their local representatives have not acted as opposition and demanded answers. Whether collusion or laziness, every single politician in Knysna has failed us!
Let’s return to the letter:
Helen, here’s a brief summary which alone should make any moralist outraged:
Knysna Tourism Corruption:
A quasi-governmental organisation because it’s a Section 21 Company receiving the vast majority of its budget from the Knysna Municipality i.e. from the taxpayer. Additionally, it was set up in conjunction with local government and its Board members, the directors, have included Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, Deputy Mayor Esme Edge, Speaker Michelle Wasserman and Municipal Manager Lauren Waring. It’s inextricably linked to the government.
Knysna Tourism has been without a CEO for 14 months which is the result of him being founding guilty on 4 charges of gross misconduct which left Knysna Tourism, for all practical purposes, bankrupt. As Knysna is a tourist-based economy with our existence depends on it, this was unacceptable. The ex-CEO, Shaun van Eck, must carry some of the responsibility for what happened but the cover-up is far bigger than him and indeed may be far less his fault than theirs i.e. to a degree, he may have been the scapegoat. The rules of governance state that the Board Members are ultimately responsible yet none have been brought to book. Worse is that instead of charging him criminally, which would have supported their claims in the press, they:
- Paid him R270,000 to go away and sign a non-disclosure agreement which was…
- …after spending R170,000 of taxpayers’ money on their own legal fees…
- …and then had to get a R500,000 advance from Knysna Municipality.
- Blamed him for the deficit although they had ordered him to spend millions in surplus so that they could get more money from Knysna Municipality.
- Were aware of loans from taxpayer monies to private companies yet pretended that the ex-CEO had acted alone.
- In addition, Dee Hollely, the DA Treasurer and Ward 10 committee member who was mentioned earlier, led a petition to retain the ex-CEO, also a DA member, instead of getting to the root of the rot in Knysna Tourism [NB: if she ever runs for office, I will be sure to refer the public back to this letter at every opportunity].
- Refused to provide budget info, members rights and the constitution to members and the public which could have proven their wrongful actions.
- Have rewritten the constitution illegally which would restrict member’s access to information and are…
- Allegedly, illegally, paying Greg Vogt, the Tourism Board Chairperson who has been a notable member in this DA cover-up.
- Allegedly had the Knysna-Plett Herald (KPH) print a 2-page statement against the ex-CEO, Shaun van Eck, that the newspaper did verbatim without asking for a response from the ex-CEO. This gives credence to the strong rumours that members of the Knysna Municipality and the DA held an emergency meeting in George with the owners of the Knysna-Plett Herald, Group Editors wherein they threatened Operations Director, Nicole Rimbault (née Moolman), with the withdrawal of their advertising unless their position was made clear in the KPH. It’s noticeable that after that alleged meeting, in the next edition of the KPH, Knysna witnessed, for the first time, a blatant coloured block on its front page with some retraction. Then came the 2-pager. This is the same newspaper that has repeatedly, along with others, ignored my stories.
- Have practised favouritism to certain suppliers instead of tendering, some paid exorbitantly [NB: This is amplified by Knysna, a tourist-based economy, having faced massive difficulty since 2008. Tourism contracts should look for the best deal but, spread out, could have also served the noble purpose of keeping more small businesses alive].
- Would not provide the Public Protector with a detailed budget breakdown and other info that would help the public understand and fix this financial and ‘leadership’ mess.
- Lauren Waring, the Municipal Manager, would not assist the Public Protector’s queries, allegedly telling him that it’s a Section 21 company which is outside her purview. That would be a deliberate lie as she is not only responsible for the approximate R12 million in funds the Municipality has given Knysna Tourism under her reign but is also a director on the Tourism Board. And, with her training in town planning, she is more aware than anyone else that she and the DA have contravened the MFMA and more.
- Have ignored the 20% budget for empowerment clause and ensured that Knysna Tourism favours white people.
- Have repeatedly failed to provide full disclosure on the trip to Jamaica and the twinning with French cities.
ISDF (Integrated Strategic Development Framework)
This is hailed as the plan that will decide the next 30 years of Knysna but how can we have faith in the future if the same people choosing it for us have failed us in the past? How can South Africa trust the ISDF as the possible future ‘ideology’ for the Western Cape. Right now, all it seems like is a DA sellout to big business:
- The biggest conflict is the conflict of interest which automatically disqualifies those tendering to run the process. It’s highly ironic that Knysna Creative Heads, the team who won the bid, was the one with the most conflict of interest i.e. their director, Chris Mulder, is the biggest property developer in Knysna.
- “In terms of section 8(8) of the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA)2, only the tender with the highest number of points scored may be selected. ” Knysna Creative Heads did not offer the lowest bid.
- The adjudication panel included “Ilse van Schalkwyk who should have recused herself from the BEC and the BAC meeting, as she used to manage the George branch of Urban Econ for a number of years. As Dr Mulder was a client of the firm she managed, the question arises of whether her evaluation of Dr Mulder’s abilities was not influenced by the fact that he was a former client.”
- The adjudication panel included town planner, Mike Maughan-Brown, who, previously, as a developer, had, along with Chris Mulder, tried to change the Urban Edge of Knysna so as to favour developers. Maughan-Brown was also aware that Chris Mulder and his company CMAI (part of Knysna Creative Heads) had had an unfair financial advantage as they had developed a Spatial Development Framework (SDF) for a section of Knysna already. This was the Rheenendal Structure Plan…
- Which raises the question why the SDF was not delayed so as to be part of the ISDF? Additionally, payment was kept just below the threshold that would have required it to go to tender.
- Essentially, CMAI would now get paid twice for doing the same job which is in contravention of the Supply Chain Management Course Manual (developed by the SAMDI in cooperation with the National Treasury).
- At the first ‘interactive’, ISDF public meeting, they refused to interact with the public and at the second repeated that they will not hold a general meeting. This is a divide and conquer approach.
- I registered for the process but somehow my registration has not gone through…even after I’ve pointed it out.
- Municipal Manager, Lauren Waring, would not cooperate with a request for information that had gone through the process of PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act).
We haven’t even touched on other topics such as the pay-off to Johnny Douglas, the previous Municipal Manager, or the R30 million debt write-off in Dec 2012 that Lauren Waring has refused to give the public details of.
Does this sound like a DA government that believes in transparency and legality??? Or is it more like political opportunism that grabs, and holds onto, power no matter the cost to the public? It raises the question as to who is funding the DA in Knysna? Then again, the Democratic Alliance refuses to answer the same question on a national level i.e. only the DA knows its agenda. Everything we’re told feels like window-dressing.
The DA is in charge of Knysna so you have to carry the weight of accusation and responsibility. But the ANC doesn’t get away with it, especially since the ANC Chief Whip, Stephen de Vries, a cover-up compatriot of the DA, is also on the Knysna Tourism Board. I will ask questions and lay a complaint with SCOPA, National Treasury and higher ANC leadership unless you respond me to me within 14 days. The latter is an action I’ve intentionally avoided for years lest the ANC use your mistakes and crimes as a political weapon because political weapons tend to hurt us ‘small’ people on the ground. But i want the truth and i want corrective action…and i’m tired of playing your waiting game which disrespects democracy – this is not an episode of Survivor – this is our lives.
Hiding the truth is the same as lying. Knowing of a crime and refusing to address it is makes you, Helen Zille, an accessory. By our laws, simply not investigating it is a crime. And the crimes that have been committed deserve prosecution for their contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act, the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulations, the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Local Government Municipal Finance Act.
I love Knysna. Show that the DA does too. It’s not too late. PLEASE DO THE RIGHT THING. Stop the cover-up of maladministration and corruption. Be moral leaders in Knysna.
Read these relevant follow-ups:
This is a list of DA members and municipal members in DA-run municipalities who’ve refused to address or do anything about either, or both, the Knysna Tourism and ISDF issues:
WESTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT & PROVINCIAL LEADERSHIP
Helen Zille (Leader of the DA and Premier ofthe Western Cape)
Geordin Hill-Lewis (Chief of Staff to the DA Leader)
Myrtle Jonathan (Office of the Premier)
Minister Alan Winde
Lucille Fester (PA to Alan Winde)
Rouxlé Freysen (Public Liaison Officer
– referred to Minister Botha)
Dianne Kohler Barnard (Shadow Minister of Police)
Ralph Stander (ANC Provincial Committee)
EDEN DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY
Eden Corporate Services – Tertuis Alfred Simmers (June 17)
Eden Financial – Lousie Hoek
Eden MM – Godfrey Louw
Georlene Wolmarans (DA Mayor/ex-Tourism Board member)
Esmé Edge (DA Deputy Mayor/Tourism Board member)
Michelle Wasserman (DA Speaker/ex-Deputy Mayor/ex-Tourism Board member)
Steven de Vries (ANC Chief Whip)
Richard Dawson (Ward 10 Councillor)
Lauren Waring (Municipal Manager)
Johnny Douglas (ex-Municipal Manager)
Grant Easton (Director Finance)
Reggie Smit (ex-Corporate Services Manager)
Bevan Bellman (Corporate Services Manager)
KNYSNA TOURISM BOARD AND EX-BOARD MEMBERS
Greg Vogt (Chairman/Global Conservation)
Nan Raturat/Czank (Vice-Chair/Villa Castollini)
Dianne Pepler (Board member/Featherbed Nature Reserve)
Christine Collins (Board member – Magnetic South)
Kathy White (Board member – Sedgefield Arms)
Mark Dixon (ex-Chairman/Garden Route Trail)
Marion (Mack) McIlvenna (ex-Board member/Armadillo Studios)
Debbie Stanley (ex-Board member)
Ella Mahlulo (ex-Board member/Emzini Tours)
Mike Mills (ex-Chairman)
Shaun van Eck (ex-CEO of Knysna Tourism)
Glendyrr Fick (Knysna Tourism Office Manager)
Nicci Rousseau-Schmidt (Oyster Festival Manager/Knysna PR)
Marlene Prinsloo (Tourism Development Officer)
Jacques Marais (PR for Tourism as Write Touch)
KNYSNA CHAMBER OF BUSINESS (now defunct)
Dave Hendry (ex-Chairman of now-defunct Knysna Chamber of Business)
Craig de Villiers (ex-member of now-defunct Knysna Chamber of Business)
The Knysna Ratepayers’ Association
Belvidere Homeowner’s Association
Leisure Isle Ratepayer’s Association (LIRA)
WARD 10 COMMITTEE MEMBERS