This past Friday, on day #55 of battling to get answers regarding Knysna Tourism, I finally had a meeting with the DA. This included Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman and Councilor Esmé Edge. Additionally, the latter two have been appointed to the Tourism Board, Michelle heads the Financial Committee and Esmé Infrastructure. I was in good company considering the topics.
There were no cookies and coffee but they definitely get credit for politeness. I’d also held back on blogging the previous week as a gesture of goodwill and in the hope that the meeting would be productive. I liked the ladies. Outside of our adopted positions, I’d probably enjoy their conversation socially. But my goal is to get answers and improve Knysna as best I can so let’s get down to the facts:
They provided Knysna Tourism’s 2010 & 2011 budgets and a 2008 Oyster Festival agreement between Pick ‘n Pay and Knysna Tourism. The agreement doesn’t answer my query regarding the community development mandate and it’s possible there have been changes over the past 3 years. Regards the budget, I’d previously requested a breakdown of who is getting what because, without it, the meeting couldn’t truly be productive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t provided. To explain why it’s essential, consider that Tourism’s 2010/2011 budget was R7 million. Some categories read as:
- Annual Event Support – R1 390 000
- Advertising – R1 200 000
- Media Educationals – R350 000
- Website (Marketing & Development) – R105 000
That explains nothing and only beggars questions. The power lady trio said that they will be answered and that Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman would be on point. There is some comfort in that as she’s an advocate which I’m hoping translates into a passion for justice.
Nevertheless, and despite the obvious challenge it must be as new leaders trying to determine where the previous administration left the Knysna Municipality, it has been 55 days i.e. another delay!
This is what they’re busy doing or intending to do:
- The municipality will install a query/complaint system.
- Knysna Tourism will install a query/complaint system.
- The municipal website will be updated/upgraded.
- That I should consider our meeting as introductory and that there will be follow-ups.
- They will get the answers to the questions I’m asking (and requested that I submit them via email again – I will also post those online tomorrow).
- Deputy Mayor will complete the interview I sent her.
Keep in mind that the questions I’m asking should be exactly the same questions they should be asking. Their positions require it. It’s damn scary that no one in proper positions of power knows exactly what is happening with Tourism under Shaun van Eck and the current Board led by Mark Dixon and Greg Vogt.
Perspective can also make a difference. It’s quite easy to switch views of my activism from “irritating blogging” to “a helping hand”, especially if we all love Knysna.
Knysna Tourism must give a “fair shake” to service providers (is there favouritism?/is their overpayment for services?), share their marketing strategy with the town they represent and install practical development plans that include the majority of Knysna’s citizens.
Knysna Tourism can’t honestly claim to represent Knysna if the 7 members of it’s board, it’s CEO and Public Relations Officers are all White. I exclude the 8th member of the board, the Municipal Manager, Johnny Douglas as his role seems invisible i.e. non-active and pathetic. Finally, that’s a big budget for a small town – oversight is needed!
I made the title of this blog a question because it’s very easy in our jaded world to question whether intentions are real. Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman validated most of my queries but only time will decide whether our meeting was political posturing or service to the community of Knysna through truth, responsible accountability and genuine leadership. I’m hoping for the latter! We can make a difference!
You can read those questions here.