KNYSNA NEWS - A leaflet issued by the DA stating why it does not support its own mayor in Knysna, Mark Willemse, elicited a vehement response from Willemse and DA councillor Peter Myers last week.
It followed shortly in the wake of a second failed motion of no confidence against Willemse, who on the face of it has been hounded by his own party to resign since his inauguration as mayor last year.
The DA Western Cape provincial leader and minister of transport and public works Bonginkosi Madikizela last week confirmed that the leaflet was indeed issued by the DA in the Western Cape.
'Going against the caucus'
In his response to the circular entitled Let's Talk – Knysna", Ward 10 councillor Myers pooh-poohed the allegation that Willemse and himself went "against their caucus and the leadership of the party and voted with the ANC in a motion of no confidence to remove then DA mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies" and emphasised the fact that both he and Willemse had already both been exonerated during an official disciplinary process regarding the matter.
Myers also explained that neither he nor Willemse voted with any party – ANC or otherwise – but that they had "voted with our consciences" to remove Bouw-Spies and that he (Myers) did so as he had been ''forced to conclude that she was not a fit and proper person to hold the office of mayor".
In a strongly worded media statement issued last week, Willemse called the communication ''lies, misleading and defamatory'' and accused its authors of being ''on a path of personal vendettas and vengeance".
Election as mayor
Myers also refuted the DA leaflet's postulation that "Willemse opted to accept a nomination to the position of mayor and was subsequently elected by a majority of ANC councillors".
Myers elucidated that, after the majority of DA council members had ''unlawfully absented themselves'' from the council proceedings, he was the only DA member that remained present in the council meeting on the day Willemse was nominated for the position of mayor. He furthermore stated that he had acted on instruction of the DA leadership:
"I did this after having been specifically mandated to do so by the DA leadership who were adamant that Willemse and I had to do all we could to keep the council in DA hands."
Myers said Willemse was the only nominee for the position, and therefore he was automatically elected without a vote taking place.
In his media statement, Willemse said he became mayor because DA caucus members were ''instructed to abandon the chamber before the vote" and referred to a discussion with DA provincial chairperson MEC Anton Bredell, "who agreed that we needed to keep Knysna DA''. He added that according to Schedule 3(5) of the Structures Act ,"If only one candidate is nominated, the person presiding must declare that candidate elected". "It is therefore a lie and misleading to say that I was elected by a majority of ANC councillors," Willemse said.
'DA has outright majority'
Myers thumbed his nose at the DA statement that Willemse is ''effectively an ANC mayor''. To claim that Willemse was anything else than a DA member faithfully carrying out the mandate of thousands of residents that voted for him in the 2016 elections was ''ridiculous and would be funny if it was not so serious", Myers said.
He also questioned the statement in the leaflet that "if the party cannot assume a leadership role in the council to implement the manifesto voters elected, it will take up an opposition role", saying the DA currently holds 11 of the 20 current seats (including the two held by its ACDP and KUC alliance partners) on the council, and therefore "has an outright majority including the position of the mayor".
In his statement to the media Willemse said, "I am a loyal DA member who worked extremely hard to attain the results achieved during the recent national elections."
The leaflet finally states that the party will be taking action against Willemse, but neither Myers nor Willemse were aware of any action taken.
When asked for his comment, Bredell responded, "I am aware of mayor Mark Willemse' media statement that he posted on his Facebook page on 14 June. I have however decided not to comment on the content of his statement as this matter is currently being investigated by the party's Federal Legal Commission."
Madikizela said the content of the leaflet "is factual and has been approved by the regional leadership of the party". "The information provided to residents is merely a summarised version of past official statements," he stated.
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