If you haven’t realised yet, local politics is a game of power that’s about a few looking after themselves and not us in Knysna. As it stands, when there’s a new ward and two new councillor posts, the ANC will win Knysna. I don’t expect the DA to sit back and play fair by working harder to win the posts on merit. In all likelihood, they will try persuade a member of their opposition to cross over to them.
It’s hard to predict what will happen in the crazy politics that rules the Knysna Municipality but i’m going to explore the possibilities with you.
After the General Elections, i published ‘We Are All Losers: The Truth About South Africa’s 2014 Elections’ i said that, “Jadedly, one could say that it’s not about democracy. It’s all about power, an engine run on the fuel of promises and lies that offer hope to people desperate for it. All South Africans want life to be better. Even if the donkey never catches the carrot, it will keep on chasing it.”
That’s especially true in small towns such as Knysna where most of our politicians do not believe that they work for us (they do!) but instead serve the interests of party leaders in Cape Town. Even though their loyalty isn’t to us, they know that the public will vote along the same lines as it always does… and if they play their cards right with their distant bosses, they stand a chance of promotion.
So who could get promoted? That’s a tough one. That may revolve around, and result from, the battle to be Mayor. Georlene Wolmarans became Mayor of our DA-run town even though her history was as an Independent Democrat and she lost her Ward of Hornlee i.e. it’s possible that it doesn’t matter who or what you do, the big bosses (those out of town) will choose our ‘leaders’ according to what’s good for them, not us. It would have been logical to make Michelle Wasserman mayor but she was probably too white.
Eleanore Spies was the ex-ANC Mayor of Knysna who fell out of favour with her party amid rumours she was favouring the DA.It was obvious to me that she was returning to politics when she started an anti-crime group that went nowhere and joined a charity board that went nowhere too. I asked her if she was entering the race and she said that she was, as an independent. However, she suddenly appeared as the DA candidate for a Ward the DA couldn’t lose and, on her first day on the job, was promoted to Speaker, arguably a position as important as the Mayor’s. The position is responsible for the maintaining the conduct of Councillors and is the law and order in Council Meetings.
Spies is the obvious contender for Wolmaran’s position as Mayor. And, as she is currently the Ward Councillor for Rheenendal, Spies would undoubtedly love to stop traveling the long distance from Hornlee where she stays (as does Wolmarans). There’s the possibility that Wolmarans won’t fight for that ward if she is to be promoted to a provincial position (as the DA is likely to reward those who listen to Cape Town rather than us).
That scenario becomes trickier when considering Elrick van Aswegen, the COPE representative, who lives in the mostly coloured area of Hornlee too. As said in ‘The Political Future of Knysna & Bitou (Plettenberg Bay)?’, “COPE seems all but destroyed nationally, infighting reducing their support from 7.42 percentage points (hereafter referred to as “%”) to 0.67%. In the Western Cape, they are even lower at 0.59%. The worst example of their failure may be in Bitou where they plummeted from 15.67% to a miserable 1.27%. Contrastingly, the political micro-climate of Knysna has them dropping from 11.62% but hanging on at 4.76%.”
Van Aswegen was one of the best performing COPE municipal politicians in the country and has value to Knysna is that he studies the agendas more than anyone else (i fear that some don’t read them at all). Provided that he doesn’t want to run as an independent, which i would prefer him to do, that power of the voters gives him leverage to get out of COPE to land softly in another party. If so, will he choose the ANC or the DA?
The ANC makes more sense as Van Aswegen has voted consistently with them for years, even when the DA has been right. Van Aswegen has also continuously hammered the white people of Leisure Isle and George Rex Drive (which would form part of the ward that includes part of Hornlee). Additionally, Stephen de Vries, the ANC Chief Whip, has angered a lot of the ANC for seemingly siding with the DA and Administration. If De Vries is booted, or gets a municipal job that he desires, Van Aswegen would make a good leader of the opposition. But Van Aswegen may not want to deal with the complicated branch structure power struggles the ANC is so well known for. He’s a shrewd politician and may see the butter in the DA’s saucepan which is far bigger than the ANC’s in the Western Cape… and the DA would go to any length to keep power in this town. If he did join the DA it would be the biggest political hypocrisy ever in a municipality seething in hypocrisy.
What happens to Knysna and who rules will be decided by those politicians mentioned. Below them, is a mess which the DA and ANC will try turn into a mathematical calculation giving them the proportionate representative councillors to win.
There are very strong rumours that the ANC branches are very angry at their current crop of Councillors who have failed to effective opposition even when DA failings have been gift-wrapped. With the constant in-fighting, it’s too difficult for me to hazard a guess at that fallout but i can generalise by saying that several are guaranteed to be replaced. It may even come down to those driving the fanciest cars.
The DA needs to save face after all my blogging exposures so there will be change there too. Michelle Wasserman and Richard Dawson recently handed in their resignations which will become effective at the end of May after they have voted for the DA’s proposed budget. That gets rid of two of the three main councillors who were most involved in the Knysna Tourism mess. The other is Deputy Mayor Esme Edge. Will she go too? We can hope so. Furthermore, Louisa Hart has had some very tired looking moments in Council the past 6 months so it wouldn’t surprise me if she retired. Who will enter the ring for them? Could the Chairperson of the DA Constituency Peter Myers or his co-Chair Mark Willemse be looking for a job? All will be revealed soon enough.
There is big change on the prowl in Knysna.
There may be a few politicians with some merit but hopefully you’re getting my point that the political parties are acting, overall, in their own, and not our, interests!