KNYSNA NEWS - It seems like a regular MM-merry-go-round – without the merry – in the Knysna district.
The all-important post of municipal manager, it seems, does not sit well with the towns in this neck of the woods.
Knysna's current MM Dr Sitembele Vatala was given seven days to offer reasons to council why he should not be suspended last week after being implicated in the municipality's financial crisis. It was handed to council on Monday and the decision about his political future will be decided today.
If Vatala is suspended over misconduct this week he will be the third MM in Knysna to enter and exit the post under dubious circumstances in just over two-and-a-half years and the fourth in just over six-and-a-half years.
The overall record holder in the MM Musical Chairs Competition is apparently Johnny Douglas. Douglas served as acting MM during the tenure of Eleanore Bouw-Spies as mayor but was asked by the DA to leave in 2011 before the end of his contract (receiving more than R1-million for the six weeks that he remained in office before his untimely departure in the process). In 2016 he was appointed by the DA as acting municipal manager following the suspension of Knysna's sitting MM Grant Easton. Easton also resigned during the course of his disciplinary hearing.
In January 2018 Douglas was seconded to Bitou Municipality by the DA's Western Cape minister of local government Anton Bredell after Bitou MM Thabo Ndlovu was placed on precautionary suspension following a forensic investigation into maladministration and misconduct there by senior officials in the municipality.
Douglas was meant to occupy the seat for at least three months, but Bitou mayor Peter Lobese and his ANC coalition partners voted against the extension of Douglas'contract in April 2018. He was appointed as acting MM in Knysna again in July that year.
While many in the Knysna council welcomed Douglas' reinstatement as acting MM in Knysna, others protested his appointment, with members of the Knysna Ratepayers' Association delivering a complaint of misconduct against him. The KRA's Susan Campbell stated at the time that she possessed documents that proved prima facie negligence and unlawful conduct by Douglas in the so-called Senza Restaurant debacle that allegedly cost the municipality millions of rands. ''If proven," Campbell pronounced, ''it could amount to a financial crime.''
Enter Kam Chetty – who didn't last long either. On 8 July 2019 he resigned after only a year in office. A 17-page report by De Swardt Vogel Myambo Attorneys on instruction from council in July 2018, addressed 15 allegations against Chetty including those of misconduct and fraud.
Under the banner "He Kam, He Saw, He Didn't Stay Very Long", Knysna-Plett Herald noted that he was the fifth municipal manager to leave the Knysna Municipality in five years. – Ed
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