Since 2011, Knysna’s disrupted and politically affiliated administration has been ‘helmed’ by 6 Municipal Managers (MM) and Acting Municipal Managers. Johnny Douglas was the MM at the time the DA when the DA and Mayor Georlene Wolmarans took over in 2011.
Although there’s supposed to be separation between the powers of the Administration and the Council, there rarely is.
Douglas was considered to be loyal to the ANC but maybe he’s just loyal to whoever gave him a job (now worth R1.3-million annually in a town of 76,000 people).
Initially, the DA forced him to leave, paying out not only his package but strangely much more than was allowed. In contradiction to the large amount he was paid to leave his office, he was later rehired by the DA in Knysna, Bitou and, now, Knysna again.
In August 2011 the DA Council terminated Douglas’ contract rather than allow him to serve out his term.
Then Mayor Georlene Wolmarans explained the reasoning to the media as follows: “This shows our commitment to making the necessary changes that will enable us to move the town and the council forward to achieve the goals as set out in our election manifesto.”
It was a contradiction when Douglas was congratulated by Wolmarans via the Knysna-Plett Herald for having done a good job.
The DA Council resolved to pay out Mr. Douglas an amount of R1,078.882 for the financial year of 2011/2012, despite the fact that he only worked for the month of July 2011 and 12 days of August 2011, a total of 31 working days.
That was both over-payment and, overall, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Lauren Waring replaced Douglas as MM. She too failed to account for Douglas’ over-payment.
In 2016, the DA were rumoured to be planning his return full-time despite that fair process needed to be followed for any appointment. The rumour seemed true when he was made Acting Municipal Manager on the recommendation of MEC Local Government Anton Bredell.
Douglas failed to act on any of the evidence I presented him.
There was further concern when Douglas’ term, in 2017, was illegally extended to 6 months, after the Municipality failed to advertise the position. Bredell didn’t approve the extension yet failed to act against the illegality.
Public opposition grew. The position was eventually advertised. Kam Chetty was appointed, his last two jobs in DA municipalities.
Douglas would reappear only a few months later, 30km away, as Acting Municipal Manager of the DA-run Bitou Municipality. When the DA’s coalition failed, and the ANC took over, they never renewed his contract.
Douglas returned to Knysna Municipality as Acting MM on August 8 2018.
He has failed to answer my requests for my long outstanding PAIAs (Promotion of Access to Information Act requests), most submitted during his previous reign.
There remains unwillingness to address his 2011 over-payment, a complaint echoed by the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association.
Knysna Municipal Manager Johnny Douglas hasn’t changed. He’s still protecting political and municipal officials whilst ironically being paid well by the Public.