KNYSNA NEWS - The configuration of Knysna's various municipal wards is being contested after the Knysna Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) recently started the process of obtaining input from various stakeholders.
The proposed demarcations could result in a political shift in the town ahead of the country's upcoming local government elections next year. This move was fiercely criticised by local community leader and chair of Knysna United, Ralph Stander, this week.
On Wednesday 15 July, the demarcation board held a virtual meeting to get feedback from interested parties, including the public.
Board member Naomi Ramokgopa said they will finalise the draft wards in August, after receiving input from public meetings and written submissions, and later that month present the draft to the board.
"The draft wards will be publicised for objections in September… The final wards will be published in November and later handed over to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) the same month," Ramokgopa explained.
She said meaningful public participation will ensure a successful ward delimitation process, one that will promote free and fair elections.
But even though it is early days, Knysna United, a community organisation with roots in the Knysna suburb of Hornlee, is already up in arms over some of the demarcation proposals received.
In a statement titled "How to steal an election", issued on Sunday 19 July, Stander stated the ANC wants to break up the different wards and structure them in such a way that they favour the ANC. "A good example is they want to make Oupad, Kaalkol and Hlalani part of Ward 6 in Hornlee. They are trying to win the ward by adding these areas to Hornlee," he said.
He went as far as to accuse the municipality of corruption. "Have people ever wondered why there are now hundreds of shacks in the Noetzie road? And why the municipality is doing nothing about it? The plan is to make them part of Hornlee," Stander said.
ANC Knysna subregional secretary Moyisi Magalela declined to comment on the matter. "There is a general feeling among comrades that we should just ignore Stander and not give him the attention he is seeking," he said.
DA councillor Lavael Davis said at this stage they have no comment on the matter as the deadline for submission is at the end of the month.
Municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhout confirmed that a virtual stakeholder-engagement meeting was held last Wednesday, but referred any further enquiries to the MDB. He had not responded to Stander's allegations of corruption by the time of going to print.
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