Your statements of accessibility and transparency are not shared in Knysna. I just read your 2009 election manifesto and asked myself: “Why would the Democratic Alliance, if you had won the elections, have followed through with those intentions for South Africa if you haven’t applied it to the province of the Western Cape that you did win?”
Did your election manifesto, your promise of intent, whisper itself into oblivion because it was an all or nothing intention? Or is it just that the small towns, where life is so much more painful than the cities during this endless recession, mean nothing at all? Does Knysna mean anything to the DA?
I address you because of the so called leaders of this town who fall under the DA banner. But first you should know the the local layout. It’s possible that you do? Maybe you holidayed here (when we were famous) but all i know for certain is that you whisked through here in a fancy car, danced for the (mostly) Coloureds in the (mostly) Coloured area of Hornlee, made promises, spoke some bullshit about “how can the ANC say that the DA is for Whites if you look around you (past me) at your (Non-White) selves”, accepted the cheers, listened to your mayoral candidate, Georlene Wolmarans, make more (false) promises, before being whisked away in your fancy car. Sure, you’re a busy lady so we never got to share some of our tasty Mitchell’s Beer (maybe next time?). Sometimes i’m slow but even i get that you’re important…but i did hope to taste truth a little longer.
There’s a butterfly effect down here. Maybe it’s like that in all the little places. Small population, BIG politics. If you want a future here, the biggest “games” in town are municipal jobs and, the grand prize, politics. I’m willing to bet that the majority of our town, whether 60 000 or 90 000 (no one can agree), is unemployed. And that was probably before the crisis. Now, the shops are closing whilst others are hanging on by bleeding nails (advice: don’t let go, your family might fall with you). Hell, opposite our biggest mall, ironically right next door to the beautiful Knysna Tourism office (which some say does a good job), there are 4 empty shops. Take a scenic hike to the Industrial area and you’ll find that 66% of the occupants have vanished (if they went where the DA’s promises went, then maybe you can bring them back?). And then back to that bang-up job Tourism and Shaun van Eck (he’s DA) are doing, they get 30%. That may be a pass rate by South Africa’s education standards but it’s a truly shit occupancy rate in a town whose main income is tourism. All of that’s before the utter apartheid of Knysna – 80->85% live in poor areas. It’s such a shame that they don’t have shops selling Playstations but it’s also a shame that they don’t even have a KwikSpar or that so many children haven’t visited the places that makes Knysna beautiful.
Are you getting it? Knysna is a town in crisis.
I’m in a betting mood today so i’m going to place another wager, this time on the fact that we’re not alone. I’ll even double the money i don’t have and bet that there are a lot of smaller towns out there who can relate to the knives i’m dealing, who feel forgotten, and who’re wondering what the hell their DA politicians are up to.
Sure, you’re a quick whip so by now you’ve cracked me with “the recession isn’t our fault” and “the ANC stole the money”. That would’ve hurt if i didn’t know the first one already and if some municipal employees, hired by the previous ANC administration, weren’t covering their arses. If you’d also decided that i’m a sarcastic bugger, i’d have to accept that stroke on my back…but note that i’m not crying because of the pain – i can take a bit of pain – but because of anger being overwhelmed by despair. This country, poor people and things like the Knysna DA make me cry.
I have many but here are a few of those tears for you:
The Knysna DA’s promise of an “open door policy” is bullshit!
Knysna Tourism had a R7 million budget last year [insert “Wow”]. Corporate Services gave them R4 million of that. Guess what, there’s been no oversight. Even if it isn’t corrupt, it still has to be well-managed and spent. I also questioned the racism of the Pick ‘n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival (the biggest event in our town), the lack of effective community projects (your manifesto said “put impoverished rural areas on the tourism map”), and which people and companies were receiving sponsorships and service fees. I aimed these queries, in order, at the Knysna Tourism CEO, Shaun van Eck, the Knysna Tourism Board (by the way, all 7 members are White), the DA, COPE, ANC and an Independent.
Some were silent. Some hummed and oohed but did nothing. COPE’s Elrick van Aswegen asked for the budget in Council and then never responded thereafter. Except for a lie to sort, in the beginning, by Mayor Georlene Wolmarans, the DA were silent. Silence doesn’t sound like democracy so i tried to shame them with my blog at www.knysnakeep.org. I eventually got contacted…and delayed and delayed and delayed. I upped it a notch and got a meeting where i was lied to again for the sake of delay. It seems that DA members such as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor Michelle Wasserman think that they only have to catch opposition baddies to look good. Sure, they must if it’s true but the bulk of their job should be walking the talk, committing to positive actions of their own making. But they’re probably thinking that only requires a 30% pass rate too.
The DA’s promise of transparency is bullshit!
Knysna’s Municipal Manager, Johnny Douglas (by gosh, he was ANC), last week got praised by the Mayor for the amazing service he’s done for the town…and had his contract terminated with immediate effect, paid out until the end of the year (guessing that that is more than R500 000). Such irony but even bigger hypocrisy. Transparency, we the Knysna DA, laugh at you.
The DA’s promise of good governance and putting power in the hands of the voters is bullshit!
In Knysna, we have rent-a-mayor, Georlene Wolmarans. No one i can speak to can really tell me who she is and what she’s done. The net is no help either. She lost her ward yet became mayor probably because of the alleged deal you and Patricia de Lille made in order for the ID (Independent Party) to be enveloped by the DA. I can understand the trade even if you deny it. Sometimes deals have to be made. I wouldn’t even have mention it if Georlene had chosen to be a good person and good mayor. I care about action not words…except words which are lies, an obvious exception. She’s a liar so there’s two reasons for me to mention your deal.
By the way, i never voted for you. That’s not a dig. I actually admire you, the whole David versus Goliath, Beauty versus Beast thing. And your newsletter is much funnier than the ANC’s. I never voted for the ANC either (by the way, their new Councillors are useless too).
I voted for no one because i believed that the best action i could contribute was to work with both and try find commonalities because all the differences in a world will not make a right…except maybe that kind of “right” that would take us off the road to our future and down a cliff to where all the promises die.
I’m not apathetic because that scares me as much as i’m scared now. Knysna, like South Africa, is falling apart. We’re just ahead of the curve.
But i’m tired – it’s being 84 days without answers since i asked my first question to Tourism’s CEO.
I’m simply a concerned, poor citizen asking you to remind your fellow DA members of their promise to:
- Commit to “efficiency and accountability.”
- Have “constant and ongoing interaction between the government and its voters at all times.”
- “A maximum 30-day turnaround time for national correspondence” (sure you can make that quicker for local queries in little towns).
- “Clear complaints and feedback mechanisms.”
- “More people [being] encouraged to play a more active role in bettering society.”
- Encourage “society around them by becoming more involved in civil society.”
- A lack of racism as promoted through your slogan “One Nation, One Future”.
I could ask for, and remind of, more but you get the idea:
Dear Helen, please tell the Knysna DA not to lie.