Dear Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, this is a summary of the first complaint of DA corruption.
It involves the DA allowing millions to be given to a Section 21 company annually. The funds were abused and misused whilst DA councillors were Directors on its Board. When this was exposed, they promoted some of the guilty so as to maintain cover-up. As our town of Knysna is a tourist-based economy, the gravity of the wrong is heavier.
In some parts, for public consumption, I may change/exclude names where they affect ongoing legal proceedings against me by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and cronies who I believe are trying to gag me through gross abuse of the courts…
Knysna Tourism’s service is part of the Knysna Municipality, the starting point being the Constitution, 1996-Schedule 4, Part A that designates Tourism as a “functional area of concurrent national and legislative competence.” Part B states that “The following local government matters to the extent set out in section 155(6)(a) and (7): Local Tourism.”.
From the Constitution, one goes down to Provincial Legislation and thereafter to Local Government Legislation to looks at competencies and where tourism falls. Tourism falls under the competencies of a municipality. Whether one outsources or makes it semi-private or public-private participation does not matter – it falls under the Public Sector and that means it is the municipality’s responsibility. They cannot get away from that.
Knysna Tourism only exists because of a Service Level Agreement with Knysna Municipality who pays it more than R4-million of taxpayers’ money annually, it’s primary funding which is in the form of a grant-in-aid. Despite the MFMA applying wherever the money may go, there have been no contracts or tenders with the majority of suppliers. The organisation ran into debt 4 years in a row and was bailed out each time by the grant-in-aid – it is illegal to fund debt with public funds.
The seriousness of the situation is amplified by the politicians on the Board of Directors that was supposed to be held ultimately responsible for the organisation. Problems were swept under the rug with over R200,000 spent on court fees and the ex-CEO, who was found guilty of four charges of gross misconduct (each a dismissable offence), was given a R270,000 farewell handshake after signing a non-disclosure agreement. For almost 2 years, the organisation was run without a CEO, controlled by a few Board members headed by their Chairman. It was illegal for the Chairman to act as an Executive.
At my request, the Public Protector contacted then Municipal Manager Lauren Waring who would not help as, according to her, Knysna Tourism was a private company. Public Protector Bruce Wessels accepted that whilst knowing that Waring was being deliberately misleading because, as said, Knysna Tourism’s existence was (and is) dependent on taxpayers’ money. Additionally, the Board of Directors includes or included the DA Deputy Mayor, DA Speaker, other DA councillors, the ANC Chief Whip and the MM herself. Furthermore, Grant Easton, the CFO for Knysna Municipality and now the new MM, was on Tourism’s Financial Sub-committee. The minutes of a meeting in February 2013, at which Easton was present, states that public funds would cover its debt.
Note that the only grant-in-aid that Knysna Municipality’s Grant-in-Aid committee doesn’t assess is that of Knysna Tourism’s. Consequently, it is a serious breakdown in Supply Chain Management.
The organisation even received it’s grant-in-aid when it was in contravention of its Service Level Agreement with the Municipality, failing to spend 20% of its funds on development. Instead, consultants benefited of which one was the Chairman of the Board. The Office Manager is being paid a salary from the development fund.
The Chairman of Knysna Tourism is now CEO, granted the position by a panel that included his fellow Board members, MM, the ANC Chief Whip and his Deputy Chair. The process included Dirk Joubert, a consultant who worked with him, and earned funds from Tourism under him [that consultant was initially paid for by Knysna Municipality, allegedly with no tender having gone out. It was further a controversial move considering Knysna is a tourist town and the Chairperson was and is under investigation for abuse of animals at a tourism facility where he was previously manager i.e. his appointment made no sense unless it was to perpetuate cover-up. The public officials involved had a clear conflict of interest as they were all culpable for Tourism’s losses too. His appointment prevented accountability.
A board member who was also a DA councillor got promoted to Deputy Mayor. Easton, the Finance Director, became Municipal Manager.
MEC Alan Winde and Premier Helen Zille would not help. The lack of co-operation and hindrance is extensive and will be discussed in section 5 of this complaint.
The Knysna Oyster Festival is the largest, and by far the richest, event of the year yet we know little about it. Who exactly benefits from the money? How much is paid in salaries, particularly to the Cape Town-based company, Worldsport which manages it? Why is it audited separately to Knysna Tourism which owns the brand? Why did Councillor Richard Dawson and ex-Board member lie in his affidavit to the High Court that the Municipality has “nothing to do with it”. How can the public not know what is happening with the biggest tourist event in our tourist-based economy?
Additionally, it’s liquor licence was illegal. The Western Cape Education Board confirmed it yet the Head of the Liquor Board Thys Giliomee refused to do anything about it and CCied Ministers, something that, along with his tone, i took as intimidation. I’m not treated normally even when querying a liquor licence. They have truly erected a wall around me.
Knysna Tourism, as an organisation, is in crisis. Apparently, they’re again short on money. 4 Directors recently quit within a month. Equity directors are failing to turn up to meetings. Allegedly, one ex-director and others with inside knowledge are preparing to submit for the alleged Tourism tender that has not yet being advertised.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane, will you help despite your office needing to investigate one of your own?
Update: The monies Knysna Tourism illegally spent on consultants instead of development resulted in a new constitution which spawned a new organisation called Knysna & Partners. Instead of punishing those who had misused public funds, they were given more power, to represent all Knysna business, not just tourism. The CEO took me to court where he won a protection order against me. An advocate appeared against me, not an attorney as is usual in the lower court. The Magistrate was oddly brought in from out of town. In chambers, he made his friendship with the advocate obvious. In court, the Magistrate rejected my detailed 71-page affidavit, saying it was incorrectly formatted. He then rejected hundreds of pages of evidence because the affidavit referred to them. He then, ironically, said that because I had no evidence i was guilty. Thereafter, others involved in the Tourism scandal, and their friends, took me to court or laid charges against me. I’ve now been involved in 15 cases. The DA has done nothing to fix 6 years of cover-up and ill deeds against the public. Their goal is to destroy me so that doesn’t have to happen.
Update #2: Liquor Board chief Thys Giliomee become the Municipal Manager of DA-led Mossel Bay in November 2016. His appointment has been alleged to be illegal and has been submitted to the Public Protector.