‘Stay Awake Lest the Knysna DA Destroy You’ was the sensational title of my blog 4 days ago. In it, i said, “Some allegiances are shifting right now, most just to save themselves, but there’s a chance that some of that wall they’ve built between us and them will break. There may even be some revelations before the year is out. I have some for you but others do too.”
I got criticised for that, some people thinking that i was over dramatising, but the majority of my readers have had a radical shift in view since the early days of this blog. The Knysna Municipality and the Knysna DA doing wrong has, unfortunately, become commonplace.
It took only two days for my prediction to become truth.
Who gets the money is very relevant to who controls our town. Thus, tender integrity, where the big money is, has to be protected at all cost. Contrarily, there have been rumblings for a long time now.
I’m aware of several inconsistencies, starting with the damn ISDF (whether it’s a cover-up investigation or not, the fact is that it’s still under investigation). Then there were the riots by Oupad residents that led to repeated N2 closures. The Knysna Municipality failed to inform us that the main spark was a problem with a tender for housing, seemingly their fault. An incredible private investigation has been undertaken by a citizen and will hopefully be released publicly early next year. More investigations are in the hands of other authorities too.
The biggest controversy on the horizon is that the 10% advantage given to local companies may be illegal. Grant Easton, Knysna’s secretive Financial Director and current Acting Municipal Manager (a position i warned against), has claimed that it has injected over a hundred million into our local economy. One could look in the opposite direction by saying that if they hadn’t given that bonus to a minority of the population then all our roads and aging pipes would have been repaired.
Undeniably, there is a problem in the tender process which starts with the BEC (Bid Evaluation Committee) before being sent to the BAC (Bid Adjudication Committee).
This became official this past Thursday when Christo Vermaak, a senior reporter at the Knysna-Plett Herald, broke the story that senior members of the Municipality had resigned from the Bid Evaluation Committee (BEC). These included the Chairperson Michael Rhode and and Vice-Chairperson Johnathan Mabula who are, respectively, also the Director of Technical Services and the Manager of Environmental Management. They claimed interference at a higher level (i can only think of two people higher than them).
At the Council meeting, which would finally say goodbye to infamous Municipal Manager, Lauren Waring, the topic made page 334 on the agenda. In the motion presented by ANC Chief Whip Stephen de Vries stated:
“It came to my attention that the majority of the Bid Evaluation Committee members have resigned on the 12 November 2014 and have been accepted by the Municipal Manager.
The alleged reasons are interference of their responsibilities and undermining of the Bid Evaluation Committee.
That Bid Evaluation Committee perform an important and crucial role in the adjudication process of tenders worth millions of rands and such a drastic step by the majority of its members warrants an investigation by the Council.
Therefore recommends that the Municipal Council task the Audit and Performance Audit Committee urgently to investigate the reasons that led to these resignations and report to the Municipal Council.”
I don’t trust Stephen de Vries. He’s at the heart of the Service Level Agreement scandal at Knysna Tourism and, as opposition, along with his alliances, have totally failed Knysna. They pretend to be opposition with a few words in Council but don’t address the toughest issues with real actions. Grandstanding in Council doesn’t deliver service to the Knysna public at large and double standards is the sign of a naughty politician not a good one. Unfortunately, they get paid either way.
But the ANC knows that labour and tenders involving non-white people are contentious issues and ignoring them would be at their own peril. Furthermore, beyond the political hypocrisy we encounter at every corner of our lives, the matter is sufficiently important by itself i.e. whether true or not, it deserves priority attention and investigation.
Despite the matter been made public, the DA bowed to Lauren Waring one last time and booted the public and media (at least those of us who had survived the 8 and a half hours so far) out of the last Council meeting for the year, moving into a secret, green paper session.
But there are birdies who chirped about that meeting.
Allegedly, in true Undemocratic Alliance style, the DA chose not to investigate the claims and instead only investigate the whistle-blowers – WTF! is the only correct reaction. Honest investigation should go both ways.
The DA’s constant attempts at perception management have failed yet they seem unable, in their arrogance of getting-away-with-it, to learn their lesson. They know that Helen Zille rules the Western Cape with an iron fist but that doesn’t mean that they, as individuals in Knysna, will be protected forever.
When will Knysna demand Knysna first?