COUNCILLORS SUPPORT MAYOR WILLEMSE WITH STAY-AWAY

COUNCILLORS SUPPORT
MAYOR WILLEMSE WITH STAY-AWAY

In a strong show of support for recently-elected Executive Mayor Mark Willemse, a majority of councillors stayed away from Wednesday morning’s Ordinary Council Meeting. The meeting agenda included a motion of no confidence (“MONC”) in the Mayor. By staying away, the councilors denied the meeting a quorum, and it was called off. The meeting is now scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, 2 July, at which time the invertebrate DA rump caucus will probably again try (and fail) to reverse Willemse’s election a scant three weeks ago.

Heeding the demands of their masters in Cape Town, the cohort of local DA “bittereinders” and their dwindling coalition made a very poor showing, leaving ousted mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies to sit in her usual “mayor’s seat” at the midpoint of the semicircle, and neglecting to place the “Executive Mayor” name plate by Mayor Willemse’s place. Or, in the words of the Scottish proverb:

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
If turnips were watches, I’d wear one by my side.

It can’t be easy having to constantly look over one’s shoulder whilst standing on one foot, and dipping a toe on the other foot into the water to determine when it will be safe to make a leap that should have been made weeks ago. Although we sympathise, our patience has its limits. The longer the strange combination of political neophytes and accomplished politicians that make up the Bouw-Spies cabal refuse to work with the new mayor, the longer it will take to tackle our town’s problems, and the dimmer their prospects of re-election will become. Residents are watching carefully—and residents have long memories.

(We should point out, for the record, that that the original MONC failed to satisfy the notice requirements for the council meeting of 25 June, because it was notified to the Speaker less than the required six business days prior to the date of that meeting. Rescheduling the meeting to 27 June of course failed to cure the defective notice, and rescheduling the 27 June meeting to 2 July will not cure the defect either. Once notice is defective, it is always defective, unless and until a new notice is given. Our oblivious Speaker appears to be unconcerned by this blatant violation of the rules.)

MAYOR CUTS OFFICE COSTS

MAYOR CUTS OFFICE COSTS

Knysna Executive Mayor, Mark Willemse, announced cost-cutting measures for his office earlier this morning.

He requested the Administration to return the rented mayoral vehicle and cancel the rental contract with immediate effect.

This will result in a saving of approximately R14 000 p/m on the operational budget of the Mayor’s office. This excludes the savings in related staff costs for the traffic officer who performs official driving duties.

Flood of Litter Narrowly Averted

FLOOD OF LITTER NARROWLY AVERTED

On 11 May of this year we posted an article with the headline “Knysna Estuary to Face a Flood of Litter and Refuse.” At the time, we wrote: “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.”

Today, we are delighted to report that Knysna Municipality’s Environmental Manager Pam Booth has stepped into the breach and provided funding to carry the program through to 12 September 2018. At that point, additional funding will need to be found to bridge the gap till November, when funding should again become available from the Department of Environmental Affairs, which funded the original program.
The money will pay for two teams of 10 workers each.
The first team will work its way around the estuary shore, picking up litter from the intertidal zone at Crab’s Creek, then the Railway Bridge, then on to The Point, Simola-KADA, Laguna Grove, the stretch from the Yacht Club to Thesen’s Bridge, Thesen’s Bridge to Food Lover’s Market, Food Lover’s Market to George Rex Drive, then on to Cathy Park, the Airfield, Leisure Isle, and The Heads. Clean-up at Brenton-on-Lake and Featherbed will continue to be handled by SanParks, which sends workers over by boat.
The second team will work its way up the culverts, primarily in the CBD, picking up as they climb up to the watershed, before the litter ever reaches the estuary.
All of the litter and refuse that can be recycled will be: plastic, cellophane and similar materials to stuff plastic bottles for use as building bricks, bottle caps to be recycled in George by an organisation that donates a wheelchair for a given volume of caps, etc.
So we now have a breather until September 12th. Under our new mayor, Mark Willemse, Knysna Municipality will now begin looking for bridge funding from then till the DEA funding cycle hopefully kicks in again sometime in November.

The Committee

Our Mayor needs your Support

Today, the future of Knysna hangs in the balance.

Newly-elected Mayor Mark Willemse is coming under intense pressure from DA bosses in Cape Town to resign. We hope and pray that he will resist that pressure and fulfil his mandate to clean up this town, begin introducing good governance and effective service delivery, and start building the bright future that Knysna has so long been denied.

Mayor Willemse did not seek this appointment—the mayorship was thrust upon him when former mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies lost the confidence of Council Wednesday night, and was sent packing. Despite the fact that the motion of no confidence was brought by the ANC, the ANC chose to elect Willemse, a DA councillor, as mayor, and Ricky Van Aswegen, a COPE councillor, as his deputy.

This is unprecedented. The ANC could easily have elected one of their own. The fact that they chose not to speaks eloquently of the trust and respect that Willemse enjoys in their communities, as well as in his own ward.

The reaction to Willemse’s election has been overwhelmingly positive. Of the more than 5,000 people reached by our two most recent Facebook posts to date, only one or two have raised concerns. The people of Knysna have welcomed Willemse with open arms. Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, there is hope for our town.

The only real opposition seems to be from DA’s masters in Cape Town. They would be well-advised to back off, and not to interfere. Intent on advancing the political fortunes of the former mayor, they have inexplicably turned a deaf ear to the complaints of Knysna’s residents for the past two years. Support for the DA in Knysna has evaporated during that period, but their masters in Cape Town have blithely ignored this.

The fact is, they should welcome Willemse’s election. Under his leadership, the DA might actually stand a chance of winning the next local elections. In light of the outpouring of popular support for Willemse, and the glaring absence of support for the former mayor, the DA bosses’ efforts to oust him are inexplicable. They are working against the DA’s own interests. (And has it not occurred to them that if Willemse resigns, the DA will automatically lose the mayorship, since the deputy mayor, who is not DA, automatically takes the mayor’s place?)

But, no. Instead, we are faced with the unedifying comments of one Bonginkosi Madikezela, formerly of the ANC and then the UDM, and currently DA party leader for the Western Cape, who complains in the national press of a “coup” in Knysna. “Coup” is short for “coup d’ état”, which the Cambridge dictionary defines as a “sudden defeat of a government through illegal force by a small group, often a military one.” Please, Mr Madikezela! You are not doing your party’s reputation any good at all by abusing the language in this way. The replacement of former mayor Bouw-Spies was accomplished lawfully, in full compliance with applicable procedures, by a motion of no confidence. The only illegality was that all but two DA councilors walked out of the meeting without seeking permission from the chair.

A petition was started by a private citizen this morning, asking residents to show their support for our new mayor. We support the petition, and urge all Knysna residents who believe that Willemse’s election represents a decisive step in the right direction to sign it today (see below).

The Committee

New Mayor!

Knysna Ratepayers are absolutely delighted with the election of Mark Willemse as Mayor and Ricky Van Aswegen as Deputy Mayor this evening. They are both men of principle, focussed on doing what is right for all of Knysna’s disparate communities, black, brown and white. They are intelligent, hard-working, decent men who genuinely care for their fellows, and will do their utmost to restore our town to its rightful place as the jewel of the Garden Route. We are confident that with the support of the people, they will be able to pull Knysna out of its downward spiral and set us back on the path of good governance and effective service delivery, reversing years of maladministration and neglect. Gentlemen, we wish you well. You have our full and unconditional support.

Mayor Bouw-Spies loses MONC

Mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies just lost a motion of no confidence and has been removed as mayor.The vote was 11 councillors for and 1 against (Speaker Wolmarans). All of the DA councillors except Myers and Willemse walked out. Myers then nominated Willemse for Mayor and Tsengwa nominated Van Aswegen for deputy mayor. Both were elected.