A Special Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee Meeting was held in the Knysna Council Chambers this morning at 9am. Scheduled for 2 hours but finished within half an hour when the DA and opposition disagreed on priorities.
Committees exist for different portfolios and currently consist of 6 members; 3 from the DA and 3 from the opposition (ANC, COPE & an Independent). If there’s disagreement,the 3 versus 3 means that nothing gets done.
Stephen de Vries claimed that the agenda was incorrect as they’d expected to attend a Special meeting wherein roads were prioritised. He accused the DA of backtracking on a comprise deal made last month when Knysna’s annual budget was at a deadlock owing to the death of the DA’s Magda Williams. The deal included a restructuring of which roads would be repaired, placing the most traveled first.
Instead, the agenda was for rezoning and departure items for development, mostly involving Marike Vreken Urban and Environmental Planners, the same company that is a partner in Creative Heads which was controversially awarded the ISDF contract. Although it wasn’t mentioned, recently the Opposition stated in public that the company seemed to get preferential treatment. Even if correct, the opposing argument would be the hope that decisions on development are made as quickly and appropriately as possible for the health of the town.
Louisa Hart, a DA Member on the Mayoral Committee and Chairman of this committee, stated that she’d received the roads documents late and that it would be discussed the following week. The Opposition took their objection for discussion in a caucus meeting after which they declined to participate, thus ensuring the failure of a quorum.
Hart, who seemed to be suffering from the flu, frustratingly stated that it, “Looks like the ANC is not interested in economic development.” Ray Barrell (DA) supported her by saying that the DA also saw roads as a priority but that failing to make decisions on what was before them now didn’t help governance.” De Vries responded that, “If it really was that important then those issues would have been in front of them.”
De Vries has a point in that the delivery of the necessary documents should have been sped up but, simultaneously, it has been rumoured that the ANC has slowed processes for other reasons before this.
Louisa Hart said that she’d, “Ask the Mayor to re-look at the constitution of these meetings as we really can’t go on like this.” She affirmed the rumour that the DA could, via their majority in a normal council meeting, reconstitute all the committees so that they always had the majority e.g. 3 DA versus 2 opposition. In the short term, it makes sense for the governing party to make every decision unopposed but does that suit democracy? What if the shoe were on the other foot i.e. the ANC governed again and did exactly the same thing.
There’s no decision i can reach here but it does show, once again, that all is not as well within Knysna Municipality as the public are led to think.