If you missed it, Part 1 is here.
Knysna is a tourist based economy. Once upon a time, she relied on the timber industry but the Credit Card Boom gave birth to holiday homes; beautiful like bees on the flowers of weeds. One result was rates from the Overextended…but absentee owners do not make community spirit or awareness. And what uses are “riches” if it only means more shit sludging towards the same, over-flatulent sewage works which belches into the estuary?
The boom is over! You all know that. The ghosts of homes have become the ghosts of the ghosts of homes. What use is a holiday duplex if you can’t afford a holiday? What use is a property investment if you can’t sell it? Why are estate agencies allowed to lie about the period it takes to sell: “The average turnaround time is 5 weeks,” means nothing to the Overbonded who have to sell to survive but haven’t been able to do so for as much as 4 years. For investors, it’s a steal. One of the greatest crimes recently uncovered is banks breaking the law by not loaning money they actually possess and then, when asked for the original papers, suing owners into submission before auctioning their houses which the same bank can buy at a ridiculously reduced rate.
What use is the Tourism department if it becomes a propaganda machine that declares every holiday a success? Just ask the shop owners if it was better than last year! How can we trust Knysna Tourism when it’s Board and its CEO, Shaun van Eck, will not show us who has been getting the taxpayer’s money all these years. What use is the municipality if it covers up problems in the name of Tourism? This is only one example, a mouldy element within a much bigger rot that is reducing the quality of all our lives. How can problems ever be sorted unless they are admitted to? I’m not expecting miracles, just honesty, consultation with the public and confidence that taxes are being well spent.
Whilst bigger homes and leisure locations got built, the poor watched from the nearby hillsides, probably wondering if they would find work, get educated or simply get a tar road. Instead, they got more neighbours, refugees from other countries and the Eastern Cape squeezed in, making a need-more situation more desperate. Black and coloured suburbs never joined the white suburbs so that Knysna was Knysna. Instead, townships remained townships (such a dirty description, not replaced since apartheid) so that people identified suburbs as towns i.e. “Where did you come from,” gets answered, for example, by “Concordia” or “Wit Lokasie” instead of “Knysna”. In a town so small, how can some white people have never visited these Northern suburbs a 5 minutes car ride away or black people have taken a stroll by the lake?
We are as caged now as we were during those dark years of discrimination but the rumble in the belly of the beast is louder than ever before. We have much to be worried about!
Read Part 3 here tomorrow.