I’ve got the reports that COGTA Chair Faith Muthambi wanted from the Western Cape Government and MEC Anton Bredell, regarding their (failed) oversight of Knysna.
“Knysna Municipality is at a tipping point which could adversely affect the future of the Municipality and its community. According to officials, the organisational culture is characterised by distrust, dishonesty, conflict, political interference, instability, and toxic working relationships.”
Knysna is a town in never-ending political scandal, and again in financial trouble. Corruption hasn’t been punished for at least nine years. New Mayor Elrick van Aswegen was a councillor for that whole period.
Many residents were glad when COGTA paid a coronavirus visit via Zoom. The first part of its acronym is what matters here, Corporate Governance – “Our mission is to ensure that all municipalities perform their basic responsibilities and functions.”
This past Friday,19 June 2020, the Cape Times published ‘MPs request probe into Knysna Local Municipality be expedited’:
“A fast-tracked forensic investigation into allegations of corruption and maladministration against the Knysna Local Municipality has been requested by members of Parliament. Faith Muthambi, chairperson of the portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs, also asked the provincial Department of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to share its findings on the 2018 Diagnostic Assessment Report on the municipality.”
COGTA CHAIR FAITH MUTHAMBI WILL BE ALARMED
These are important points from the Western Cape Government’s assessment report of Knysna Municipality, dated September 2018 (78 pages):
- The Motion of No Confidence in the Executive Mayor, Eleanore Bouw-Spies on 6 June 2018 was as a result of disunity within the governing party, leading to a collaboration between a faction of the DA and the ANC. The division within the ruling party emulates the political instability in the Municipality, which has adversely affected the Administration.
- The instability in the Administration is also as a result of Charges of Misconduct against the former Municipal Manager (Mr. Grant Easton); on the basis of a number of serious allegations of irregularities leading to Disciplinary Proceedings being instituted and in the midst thereof his resignation.
- Investigations against the newly appointed Municipal Manager (Mr. Kam Chetty) on a number of serious allegations, leading to his resignation after a short tenure as Municipal Manager.
- This rapid turnaround of Municipal Managers, has had a direct impact on the Administration in respect of management and administrative continuity.
- Slacking and weakening of internal control; lack of reviews of reportable information; inaccurate reporting; poor budget implementation; poor culture of accountability amongst management and inadequate planning has become the culture in which the Administration operates.
- A culture of uncertainty, fear and non-productivity.
- Council interference in administration, down to a project level.
- Critical vacancies at senior level.
- Allegations of interference in the planning and development process.
- Abuse of overtime and time used by officials.
- The Municipality is complimented for the progressive ISDF to facilitate longer term planning. However, no clear communications strategy exists or are communicated or consulted with the staff on the Strategic Intent of the Municipality [They fail to mention that: a) the ISDF resulted from an illegal tender given to property developers b) the compilers of the report work for MEC Anton Bredell who was implicated in that crime].
- On 23 July 2018, Councillor Molosi (Ward 8), was killed and four suspects were arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy to murder, including Councillor Waxa (Ward 4).
- All incumbents of Director positions must sign Performance Agreements for the 2018-19 financial year. The only Performance Agreement (PA) that was timeously completed thus far was that of the Chief Financial Officer.
- The 2017 Upper Limits Notice prevailing at the time places KLM at a Category 3 level, with a maximum allowable total remuneration for the Municipal Manager being at R1 279 762.00 and the maximum allowable total remuneration for Senior Managers being at R1 046 101.00. An additional 20% scarce skills allowance for senior managers is being implemented and contrary to the upper limits prescripts (DLG subsequently advised the Council accordingly). [Knysna council continued paying them the illegal extra money for more than a year after this report].
- The audit committee compiles complete reports to council, including detailed recommendations, these recommendations are only “noted” by council without further resolutions. These recommendations are thus not implemented.
- The non-financial performance reported at 2017/18 mid-year was reported at 25 per cent of targets achieved whereas the fourth quarter reflected 9 per cent of targets achieved. In this instance, many basic service delivery targets were not achieved, especially water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal.
- The Budget office Senior Manager that also oversees the AFS process is still vacant.
- In general, the financial indicators reveal that the Municipality has a potential of operating as a going concern.
- There is a perception that the past that the planners do not conduct their work in an impartial, professional and an objective manner, but rather serve as a rubber stamp to endorse the proposals of developers.
- The Municipality is still addressing ad hoc litigation cases following the Knysna Fires.
The result of the 22 professionals involved in the assessment was:
“It is the professional opinion of the Western Cape Department of Local Government, following a diagnostic assessment conducted by a multi-disciplinary team in September 2018, that the Knysna Municipality is at a tipping point which could adversely affect the future of the Municipality and its community. The Municipality has only a limited time to take decisive actions to ensure that it is able to re-claim its rightful position in the Garden Route it deserves. For the outcome to be positive it is necessary that the Council and Administration take decisive action.”
Some of the recommended priorities were:
- Introduce measures to limit interaction between officials and Councilors.
- Introduce ethical leadership (change starts at the top).
In November 2018, the assessment team provided a 53-page support plan.
I expect that Faith Muthambi wants more than this. Did the Western Cape Government provide oversight, ensuring that the support plan was implemented?
And the question we should be asking is, “Did the Western Cape Government deliberately allow Knysna to get worse so that it could abuse its powers by trying to take over the town, and rig the game for the DA before elections?” Which is what MEC Anton Bredell and the DA’s Jame Selfe had intended for Oudtshoorn, another town in the Garden Route.
This is #Day 2 of my 100 Days of Activism against Corruption.