I quit the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association (KRA).
My participation was short; 1 public meeting and 2 committee meetings. This is not only why I did so but why it’s important for you to demand accountability if you choose to become a member. It’s especially important to any Knysna residents’ association that is considering joining.
2 weeks ago, I sent the following resignation:
“Owing to the lack of response and my concerns about the KRA, i will be resigning from the KRA. The KRA should be a watchdog rather than it requiring a watchdog. I will supply a formal resignation with reasoning later this week. Please seek a positive, active path. Knysna has been let down too many times already!”
I changed my mind and decided not to rock the boat with a detailed resignation which i’d undoubtedly shared with you, my readers. I have much on my plate, don’t seek more conflict and there’s a chance that the KRA, as a result of their own inaction, will become another irrelevant organisation, bound to disappear…again.
But today i received an email from an employee (lovely lady, not her fault) of one of the committee members (not the chairman) saying:
“Our committee has asked if you would please cancel the link between your ‘Knysna Keep’ and the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association as it is causing confusion.”
It irked me that it was not sent through the proper channel and when i requested that the chairman contact me, i was sent exactly the same email from the same address with the chairman’s details added into it – ridiculous (and the final motivator for this letter to Knysna).
To clarify, the Knysna Keep was not a member; i was there in an individual capacity. Knysna Keep is one aspect of me (there’s pretties such as Love Knysna and Love Knysna Projects too).
There are no links from Knysna Keep as there’s no KRA website.
If by “link”, they meant mentions of the KRA, then i’m going to have to skip my intentions to not be petty and delete these lines in my Knysna Keep blogs (i will look for, and remove, other positive ‘relevancy’ on my other sites):
- “Scarily, history has proven that’s true which is why it’s so important that groups such as the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association remind the public of the actions of their leaders. “
- Upon meeting a member of the committee for the first time last month, i’d said “I was looking forward to working with her on the committee for the Knysna Ratepayers’ Association.”
If by “link” they mean severing my ties, then this blog should do it.
So what led me to quit?
Working alone is exhausting and depressing. I’ve always said that a team can achieve so much more. I wanted to be a team player. For that reason, i never rocked the boat when it came to some votes i disagreed with. I wanted to give the committee a chance to solidify into a common purpose but these pointers really bug me because they question the heart of the KRA:
- An important goal of the KRA should be to act as an umbrella organisation i.e. to represent the many residents’ associations in the Knysna Municipality. Whilst applauding those organisations, I’ve also been a critic as they have been unwilling to use their weight regards major issues in Knysna. The KRA could’ve solved that by leaving potholes and street signs to the locals whilst taking on the bigger problems that many organisations have in common. It’s the way to work together (and productively). My suggestion was that each organisation becoming a member be entitled to a seat on the KRA committee so that the KRA is truly representative of Knysna. One member said that we would lose control to hidden agendas and that they should rather be part of sub-committees. With 1 of the 5 committee members, the only lady, not in attendance, we voted and I was the only one wanting them to gain a seat at the table i.e. Knysna lost.
- Whether aware or unaware, some of the KRA committee members have an old-school, apartheid-era attitude about them. I’m not calling them racists but it felt very much as an “us and them” approach. As a consequence, there was zero motivation to seek organisations from non-white areas to work with.
- I wanted transparency for the KRA and expressed such. We never had to include our meandering path to reach a decision but it was important to represent the issues clearly as well as how we voted. I never pushed for a vote on that because it would’ve been pointless after the other men expressed a difference in opinion. So I let it lay down so as to be a team player.
- But even the minutes made for us never represented much of what went on, particularly my contribution to the conversation. Again, I never rocked the boat. I was new, the odd one in the boat, and wanted to give us a chance to work together positively.
- Most of the committee professed annoyance with the DA’s mishandling of Knysna. I certainly do but I don’t believe that should affect the KRA because it has to be for all i.e. you have to work with everyone! However, although I can’t prove it, but, in light of the bigger picture, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a hidden agenda that’s not about the DA but rather about sorting gripes with certain members of the DA in Knysna.
- Only 2 people are truly pushing the direction of the KRA. And, within that, from the interaction I experienced, I can’t help but feel that the Chairman is more a frontman than the leader of the KRA. When I asked what our quorum requirements were, Not-the-Chairman said that we didn’t have to worry as his wife or secretary could stand in if we needed them for a vote [what!].
- The same 2 people secretly set up a KRA meeting with MEC Minister Alan Winde (DA) – how could we not be informed let alone be in on that discussion? [Interestingly, it was after Alan Winde got involved in my complaint against Knysna Tourism that I was blocked by Knysna Municipality – coincidence?].
- Disorganised. After a month, the KRA had not only failed to send an email to those people who’d attended the public meeting at the Angling Club but achieved nothing of substance…not even a paid-up member.
- The other committee members would not respond productively, if at all, to the majority of my emailed queries and suggestions. In response to one document which was over 3000 words, the only main comment was that it was too long [what!].
- A committee member and I offered to sponsor the KRA website so that there would be no cost to the ratepayer. Instead, not-the-chairman presented a single quote which would cost almost approximately R3,500 (there’s R140,000 in the kitty from the last, disbanded version of the KRA). Again, I calmed the disagreement in me and said we must get 3 quotes. That was agreed upon but the next day, after I’d mailed design companies, I received a mail (Not-the-Chairman), suggesting that future correspondence be handled by him. I return a mail that, in part, was arrogant but justifiably so (I did more that day than the KRA had done in a month) and for the first time allowed my exasperation to show): “Sure but was under the impression I was asked at the meeting. Additionally, I know what’s needed. I’m prompt which is the disagreement I have with our 2 meetings so far i.e. we accomplished nothing. I realize I’m the odd one in the boat and that this may sound arrogant but there are no ways that an individual should accomplish more than a group. The KRA, to be effective, must get itself in gear otherwise it will be a critic, not a doer. Action is what counts. I take this very seriously so will commit effort to it. Are any committee members prepared to commit 4 hours daily for 1 week so that we make a plan towards a coordinated effort that represents Knysna? Are you all prepared to give me a response by tomorrow? I add the final bit because [previous] lack of response makes me wonder if this will be a shared effort with a common agenda. Regards minutes, I was the adamant one that we get our ducks in a row before addressing any issues publicly or before contacting members. I requested a newsletter as well as an option of a subscription to blogs we post on the website. The minutes are separate. The minutes should reflect what we decide on and what the vote is. That should be public. It, however, does not have to reflect the possibly meandering path we take to the destination. I also stated that we should not get involved in any issues before we have established ourselves. And, thereafter, we must be careful of taking on smaller, Ward issues such as an illegal creche (as was the example) lest we bog ourselves down. We have to focus on the bigger picture unless a smaller issue is indicative of a greater attitude.”
The chairman’s response was to say that he will discuss it with the Not-the-Chairman. They never returned to me (and 10 days later I quit).
- Money. There’s over R80,000 in another kitty that’s held by the old trustees. We voted for it to be moved to the present KRA (which was naive considering we needed to prove ourselves). Not-the-Chairman said he’d chat to the trustees. At the next meeting, he never gave us their response but rather sold us the idea that one of the old trustees should become a committee member and remain a trustee. Again, idiot me (this is so not like me), voted with them to make it unanimous, giving up on my point that we should at least meet him. In hindsight, what we should have gotten was feedback from the meeting the trustees had with Not-the-Chairman (could they have said “no”?).
It’s important to note that not all on the committee deserve equal criticism. One committee member is led but his intentions seem genuine. Another has a lot to offer but hasn’t been given that gap to fill.
I haven’t named anyone as I’m hoping that they will choose a moral path that’s for all residents of Knysna. More importantly, the KRA is supposed to represent Knysna so it’s up to future members to ensure that the committee represents them.
When will Knysna work together? Will Knysna ever win? When I arrive at the answer to those questions, it will decide whether I should keep fighting for truth or accept that you can’t fight for those who don’t fight for themselves. On so many topics, damn fighting alone!
The downside of this is that the Knysna Municipality is probably laughing – another victory for the staff and politicians who’ve refused to serve Knysna.
Please, Knysna, start working together with passion, honesty and eyes set firmly towards our future.
Update: Leon Naude was the Chairman. Ian Uys was Not-the-Chairman. Committee members included Susan Campbell and Richard Thorpe.