I’m Mike Hampton, Speaker for the Knysna Council and Councillor for the Our Town party.
It’s 9am. Today we have a billion rand budget on the table. The Public has forced us to reveal the findings of the disciplinary enquiry into CFO Mbulelo Memani. There may be an attempted overthrow of our government by the Developer’s Alliance (DA). Consequently, it’s important that I apply the rules, be dignified and look good on Zoom.
Yes, I’m hosting this important meeting via video link with 20 other councillors… err… Acting Municipal Manager (AMM) Michele Gratz has just informed me that 2 of our colleagues are missing. It’s unfortunate that with politics we lose some along the way. I don’t know whose to blame but it’s definitely not our fault. So it’s 18, plus me, that’s 19 here, today, 11 June 2020.
THE MEETING ALMOST BEGINS…
Councillors, councillors. Let’s take role call. Instead of the usual 15 minutes it takes you to call out your names, I’m only giving you 10 minutes.
After the game of ‘Marco Polo’ has ended 12 minutes later…
Councillors, I want your undivided attention so let’s get rid of possible interruptions. Go to the toilet now. Remember, we’re on Zoom so please flush quietly. Fetch a glass of water – if you’ve got a bladder problem, remember to take small sips or bring an empty plastic bottle. Importantly, please have the light shining on your face. Do not sit with an open window behind you so that the glare makes it impossible for the Public to see you. We may not always be good but we should, at least, look good. Oh, did I say that aloud… mmm… Hey, members of the Public, you know I was just kidding. Us politicians have a good sense of humour.
It’s now 9.28am…
Now that we are all here… err… the MM has informed me that ACDP Councillor Ian Uys has gone to the toilet… and KUC Councillor Welcome Salaze is fetching a big plastic bottle water…
THE MEETING BEGINS…
Let’s begin. Having viewed the agenda, does anyone have a conflict of interest to declare… none of you… good.
The first item is the annual budget and-
Councillor Michelle Wasserman, from the Developer’s Alliance (DA), why are you interrupting?
You want the item on the supplementary agenda heard first? Is that the one we never uploaded last meeting so the Public wouldn’t see it. Ah, it is. I hope we didn’t upload it this time – we didn’t, that’s good. Except I read it and don’t like it. The ANC and COPE agree with me. You want us councillors to give up our powers. And then AMM Gratz will carry the town. But not as MM. She’ll be called an Administrator. And she won’t pay us whilst we sit at home? Hey, I really don’t like it.
Is there anything I’ve missed, something positive?
Oh, so the Western Cape Government, which your party controls, will conduct an investigation into Knysna Municipality, and find all the corruption and maladministration? Oh, not your corruption, only ours. This is so the town can be handed back to the Council just before the 2021 elections. And because the DA is bankrupt, you’ll have used the taxpayers’ money to pay for your marketing scheme. And you’ll win the elections because you’ll have gotten rid of us, and have the power to keep covering up your crime.
Shew, that’s a mooi plan. Must have been some smart person like Premier Alan Winde or MEC Anton Bredell who thought up that one… oh it was… I wish I’d thought of that… but I didn’t, so I’m sorry to tell you that I don’t like it at all. I’m not going to put it first on the agenda! First, we pass the billion rand budget so the banks we owe lots of money to don’t think we’re stupid.
Yes, Wasserman, you interrupting me again. What do you want to say now?
You telling me that the DA has made a deal with the Devil’s Bank of South Africa (DBSA). If we give Gratz and her DA bosses our power, the bank will give us a R71-million loan to pay salaries at the end of this month. And then another DA municipality will collective take a loan for the same amount. Over 10 years, DBSA will make 50% profit which means, collectively, R71-million. That Premier of yours is genius.
But we’d only look good now to be more broke later. Your plan is getting complicated. Things don’t always work out when there’s a plan within a plan. Some righteous activist will figure out what’s going on and mock us online. It happens every time. We have to finally learn the lesson. It’s not going on the agenda!
Wasserman, how dare you threaten me that property developers and private ex-tourism managers will run a Facebook propaganda campaign against me and the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association! What did the KRA do?
Oh, they also disagreed with your plan. I’m starting to think that this plan isn’t genius after all. But, here right now, I’m giving you a warning. Rule 6.1 states: “You may never threaten a fellow Councillor in Public. You are only permitted to do so when Zoom is disconnected.” No, Wasserman, rules are rules!
Members of the DA, sit down! A walk-out looks dumb on Zoom. And everyone knows your tantrum strategy. But what you and Attorney Councillor Wasserman must know is that it’s illegal. Didn’t you read the the KRA’s press release? None of you read it? The KRA put all this legal stuff in there that says that there’s precedent for you to be sued for fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Even the Knysna-Plett Herald printed it this morning. I bought a copy at Silver Sweetie… when I wasn’t buying cigarettes. Democracy rules, that’s what they’re telling us now. We have to pretend to do our jobs or else-
Ok, Councillor Wasserman. You never read it. I’m glad that’s cleared up. I rather us be friends than opposition. I accept your apology.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
Who said something? This Zoom makes it hard. Was that you, ACDP Councillor Uys. No? Ok. It was silly of me to think that you were going to speak your own mind for the first time. Ahh, it was ANC Councillor Aubrey Tsengwa. I saw you made the news too. Well, you were on some blogger’s website. He was saying something about you and CFO Mbulelo Memani being friends. Never mind that, he used that photo of you in the pink suit – you looked good. So, what do you want say?
Yes, you raise a very important point, Councillor Tsengwa.
AMM Gratz, this issue involved giving you our power and a big salary for a longer time. You failed to declare your conflict of interest. Consequently, I’m ordering you to leave the room and expect censure. Yes, leave now!
Wasserman, you again. Ok, you make good argument. We’ve been talking for over an hour about not tabling this issue. Maybe it would have been quicker if we had just tabled it first, and then everything we said now would’ve counted.
As Speaker Mike Hampton, I use the powers invested in me by the Public of Knysna to move the DA’s motion to first place so that I can block it.
This Council cannot hear a motion that is in conflict with a previous motion.
On 14 May 2014, item SC01/05/20 was the “Impact of CoViD-19 on Financial Stability of Knysna Municipality and Turnaround Strategy’. It was obviously another plan in a plan because it was about more than the coronavirus. It said:
“1. This serves to submit a report to Council relating to the impact of COVID-19 on the financial sustainability of Knysna Municipality and the local economy;
2. To request Council to support a turnaround strategy for Knysna Municipality; and
3. Brand reposition the Municipality, restore financial sustainability and build public confidence.”
We approved that item which included:
“[e] Council request Provincial and National Treasury for additional funds to assist the Municipality’s cash flow situation;
[f] Council resolve to approach Provincial Treasury and other relevant Departments to appoint Official/s for the next six months to assist with implementation and support of the turnaround strategy.”
We made a decision wherein Knysna would get help and we’d keep our salaries. It was a good plan. And because it was first, this new Developer’s Alliance plan can’t be heard.
Councillor Wasserman, I don’t know why AMM Gratz never followed Council instructions. She’s in your faction. If she didn’t, then she’ll be disciplined for failing to carry out her duties. And she’ll have to explain why she supported the new plan, the wrong plan, that would give her a job.
No, no more whining, Councillor Wasserman. I’ve made my ruling. And my side has got the majority. Please show your hands on Zoom. Councillor Uys, I’m shocked. You’re abstaining instead of voting with the DA? Now we’ve got an even bigger advantage. Yes, that’s 10 against 8 with 1 abstention. The motion is denied and the DA is encouraged to come up with another plot against Knysna.
C’mon councillors, let’s be professional and finish so we can go to lunch. We’ve only got half an hour left to get through this billion rand budget. No, we won’t go through it line by line again. We suspended that irritating employee in the Finance Department so that she wouldn’t ask us that again.
Before we pass the budget, we must deal with the second supplementary item. This is about NERSA. That’s the National Energy Regulator of South Africa. They’re very unhappy with us because we’ve been overcharging some ratepayers, and undercharging others. They took a sample but if we do a bigger check, our budget may be out by millions. Turn to page-
What’s that noise now?
Outside, on the street, the unions of SAMWU and IMATU have gathered in joint protest against corruption, and the threat by the propaganda supporting Gratz that stated she would get rid of 500 municipal staff.
Councillors, I’m adjourning this meeting until our workers shut-up. Let’s come back at 2pm.
NB fact: The Council meeting which is always at 9am, suspiciously started late today, at 11am. After it took 19 minutes to do a roll call, it was adjourned to 12.45pm. I’m either a pyschic or a behavioural psychologist. They obviously have a self-created crisis on their hands, and the DA’s and ANC’s bosses in Cape Town will be giving them orders. They also have to figure our how to react to AMM Michele Gratz suspending 2 staff members for allegedly leaking information about CFO Memani. When you give up on the actual Council Meeting below, read ‘Gratz must go!’