I’m guaranteed an entertaining conversation in those rare moments Hardy Mills stops in Knysna. I’d been trying to get him to sit down for months so, when he gave me a ten-minute warning for an oyster breakfast at 34 South, I was quick to say yes.
As a specialist in municipal law, his name pops up more than anyone else’s when there’s a political catastrophe in Eden District (Garden Route & Klein Karoo). That alone is sufficient to make him a well-known figure but the difference between a hero and a villain is often determined by who he is representing and what political camp one is in. I’m interested in his smarts i.e. if the need ever arose, we should all want a good lawyer rather than a bad one.
Hardy Mills will accept a variety of clients but, in accepting one too many from the ANC, I fear that he’s pigeonholed himself. Nevertheless, he’s my favourite ‘villain’ because he’s one of the few who understands the pressure of what I do and our conversations are simultaneously hilarious and serious – a lot like politics. I appreciate that he can handle my sometimes severe criticism of some of his clients. Sometimes he even agrees with me.
With the seemingly never-ending crisis in Oudtshoorn, the current crisis in Plettenberg Bay, and my constant battles with uncooperative politicians and municipal staff in Knysna, we had tons of stories to trade. Unfortunately, the juiciest info was off the record but further pieces in the jigsaw of our lives that I’m perpetually trying to understand. I can, however, say that I expect the Oudtshoorn and Plett situations to remain lively. There was a tidbit of Knysna he never saw as important but I found it symbolic enough to pursue – I’ll try to share that with you this coming week.
So where does the DA’s Jaco Londt fit between a lawyer and edible sea ‘slugs’? Well, it would have been very cool if he’d joined us too.
Last week, not understanding the DA’s structure for responsibility and shit-storm management, I mistakenly said that Theuns Botha had replaced Alan Winde as the representative for Eden District. I’m still not sure who’s responsible for what (a DA criticism in itself) but, as a start, it should be noted that the DA divides the Western Cape into the Cape Town metro, the Western Region and the Eastern Region (under which Knysna falls). The manager of the Eastern Region for the past 5 years, since the age of 24, has been Jaco Londt. Furthermore, it seems that individuals can take responsibility for individual towns. I don’t know which Botha has gotten (if any) but the rumour is that Jaco Londt is now the power conduit from Knysna and George to Cape Town.
The George Herald, when announcing earlier this year that Londt had become a member of Parliament, said that he’d immediately start focusing on the 2016 municipal election and quoted him as saying, “We do expect 2016 to be a close fight. We will fight hard to retain control where we govern and take over where we are in opposition. We don’t need to have ugly fights. You can have differences, but don’t be in the headlines for the wrong reasons.”
I’m hoping that Londt spoke from the heart and is prepared to pump that into action, the only truthsayer for words. It’s always been my intention to have a constructive dialogue with all sides but the DA put an end to that when they closed their doors to me and, to all, clouded the Knysna Municipality in secrecy.
As the hands-on power at the time, Alan Winde was likely behind it. History has proven that he utterly failed us. Instead of serving us, for which he is paid damn well, he chose to serve Cape Town in a manner that reduced Knysna from being a Queen to just another pawn sacrificed on the chessboard the Western Cape has become. He deserves to be in stocks with rotten vegetables, representing our problems, thrown at him. Instead, Helen Zille gave him a third portfolio, that of Finance.
[Their ‘Game of Thrones’ is about power, getting it or hanging onto it. The peasants (that’s us, the Public) get ‘killed’. At least if you join the ‘game’ you stand a chance of living in the long run… so to those reading this, please get involved and start controlling your lives.]
The DA and Jaco Londt have reason to worry. The East is tumultuous, their Coloured allies restless with dissatisfaction from being underdogs, the Black population growing the ANC bigger (a future determined by racial mathematics), and some of the White population dissatisfied with the DA but voting for them out of helplessness and fear instead of faith.
Surely the only long-term strategy with a chance of success is to lead by example and uphold election promises (instead of the lies we’ve experienced for the past 3 years)? Personally, it doesn’t matter which party does so (just so long as one of them commits to morality) so that the future I fear, as a minority, doesn’t come to fruition. The question is whether the DA is prepared to be that party and, more immediately, if Jaco Londt carries that belief?
As a start, the best way for the DA to consolidate their position in Knysna is to acknowledge the persuasive questioning of Knysna through answering them, whether by alleviating our fears with new knowledge or by admitting to problems and then conquering them with action. The top of the list must include our leadership crisis. The Knysna Council and Knysna Municipality, despite all their claims to glory, are a mess and will remain as such so long as the public are treated as peasants instead of the masters we are.
Londt is off to a bad start in that I listed him as one of the difficult DA. As far back in 2011, my mail to Zille was forwarded to him by Jade Johnson, the Public Liaison Officer for the Democratic Alliance Leader’s Office – Londt did nothing. Likewise, since he was (and is) responsible for our region, he must take responsibility for the lack of response to my submissions to the corruption hotline set up by the DA. Ironically, he was reported by Garden Route Media as saying that the DA’s “successes include the party’s “zero tolerance” stance against corruption within the Western Cape government. ” If only that were true!
But today could be a new day if he chose so. I’d welcome his youth into Knysna in the hope that that brings fresh ideas and puts some democracy back into the meaning of Democratic Alliance. I’d much rather we all work together towards commonalities than be Major Tom on a lonely destination to outer space.
In that spirit, I will email him this blog with the offer of a meeting.