The first step by the Public Protector into the Knysna Municipality involves gaining information that has been withheld. That will include these PAIA requests (Promotion of Access to Information). The Municipality and the Democratic Alliance (DA) refused to answer despite being legally obliged to.
In 2009, the election campaign of DA Mayoral Candidate Georlene Wolmarans promised open doors and transparency. In 2016, the election campaign of DA Mayoral Candidate Eleonore Spies promised better communication. Both got elected into liarship.
We, the public, are one third of local government. The other two-thirds, the municipal officials (Administration) and the politicians (Council), work for us.
In a democratic system, we can email a question and receive an answer. However, in our broken system, we have to make a formal application through PAIA if they don’t. By law, they’re required to respond but many local governments, like Knysna Municipality, don’t. They know that if they don’t respond, we, at our own expense, have to go to High Court to enforce the PAIA. That’s obviously expensive, the situation worsened by the Municipality paying for their lawyers with public funds i.e. our money.
There are two ways around this. The first is to approach the politicians for assistance. As public representatives, they should comply. However, the DA hasn’t. And since there is no opposition in Knysna (the ANC, KUC, ACDP and Independent Velile Waxa are a cruel joke), that’s a dead-end too. The DA Federal Executive has chosen to be uncooperative too.
Consequently, the second way around expensive legal fees is to go the Office of the Public Protector for assistance where matters of public interest are concerned. The Eden District Office of the Public Protector has agreed to pursue answers (note that this separate to my 9 complaint submissions to them).
Here are 8 of my PAIA requests. I have only been given some info regards #7. It’s likely that gaining answers to all will lead to further PAIA requests. The goal is to understand how our Municipality works or doesn’t, who works for it, and to understand the reasons for our leadership crisis. Of particular interest to me is to understand how the expensive Communications Department is operating and how much funds contractors and newspapers are receiving. I make no allegations against the possible service providers. This is important towards financial and moral accountability, figuring out how much (and towards what purpose) Wolmarans and Spies spent monies whilst failing their election promises.
You will find the information requested on page 2 of most of the documents:
PAIA MH#1 – Communications Dept #1 – Fran Kirsten
PAIA MH#2 – Communications Dept #2 – Contractors
PAIA MH#3 – ‘Elephants in the Room’
PAIA MH#4 – Director Resignations
PAIA MH#7 – ANC Study payments
PAIA MH#8 – East Head leases