DA SPEAKER IGNORES THE RULES

DA SPEAKER IGNORES THE RULES – WATCH THIS SPACE

At the Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, 30 May, we learned that Speaker Georlene Wolmarans, a DA councillor, had arbitrarily refused to include an ANC motion of no confidence in Mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies on the agenda. During the uproar that followed her refusal, respected ANC ward councillor Victor Molosi stated that she had bowed to political pressure from one Rowan Spies. Rowan Spies is the DA Constituency Chair and life partner of Mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies. To our knowledge, Spies has neither admitted nor denied the charge.

Speaker Wolmarans’ refusal to include the motion of no confidence on the agenda is a serious breach of the Rules of Order, a by-law that governs the functioning of the Knysna municipal council.

What do the Rules of Order say?

Rule 26(2) provides: “The Speaker must either put the motion in the agenda or refer such motion to the committee, which is dealing with the matter.”

There is of course no committee that deals with this or any other motion of no confidence. In that case, the rule says she “must…put the motion in the agenda”. “Must” is mandatory. She has no choice.

By refusing to include the motion, Speaker Wolmarans clearly violated the rule.

In so doing, she ventured into dangerous territory, a step that she, and the Knysna DA, may one day regret. The Council’s Speaker is required to act impartially. A Speaker who violates the rules governing her conduct loses the respect of Council, and the voters. She has set a dangerous precedent that may well tempt other speakers, from other political parties that may one day rule Knysna, to follow in her footsteps by breaching a clear and binding rule. And what will the DA say then?

The DA has always held itself out as the party of principle. The party of honesty, probity, and fairness. Last Wednesday, the DA lost its bearings.

Faced with an unyielding ANC, Speaker Wolmarans ultimately agreed during a recess to place the motion of no confidence on the agenda of the special council meeting scheduled for this coming Wednesday, 6 June.

At that meeting, she will undoubtedly come under severe political pressure to rule that the vote on the motion be by a show of hands, in order to ensure strict DA party discipline, and prevent any DA councillor(s) from voting their conscience. Because any DA councillor who is seen to vote in favor of the motion may very well be subjected to disciplinary action, and probable expulsion from the party. Speaker Wolmarans now has a chance to redeem herself, by allowing a secret ballot, and offering those who are most familiar with the personalities and issues involved a chance to vote their conscience. The Knysna Ratepayers Association is watching, and waiting.

The Committee

KNYSNA ESTUARY TO FACE A FLOOD OF LITTER AND REFUSE

Approximately 100 big black trash bags of litter and refuse are currently being collected each week all along the shore of the Knysna Estuary by two Working for the Coast teams. Unfortunately, the Department of Environmental Affairs’ current funding cycle ends this month, and new funding will not become available until November 2018 at the earliest.

The impact on the estuary will be severe unless someone steps in to bridge the gap. Much of the litter and refuse will inevitably end up in the estuary, fouling beaches and creating a growing unsightly mess all along the shore. Even nearby Blue Flag ocean beaches are likely to be affected by flotsam and jetsam that flows out through the Heads and is then carried by ocean currents and dumped along our coastline. Can we really afford to allow this to happen to our estuary, which attracts tourists to Knysna from all over South Africa and the world? After all, tourism is the core component of our local economy, and the Knysna Estuary is the beating heart of tourism.

Most of this litter and refuse is generated by Knysna residents who live above and along our catchments and culverts. All that land falls within the jurisdiction of Knysna Municipality. It is clear that Knysna Municipality has primary responsibility to intervene and bridge this six-month gap, either with funding, reassignment of teams to the Community Work Programme, or using some other creative approach. There will be a holy mess along our shores and in our estuary if nothing is done.

Consider the implications, with the upcoming Knysna Oyster Festival starting 28 June 2018!

The Committee