KNYSNA NEWS - It must be noted that for many months after the events of 6 June 2018, when I was elected into office, the DA caucus remained in revolt and refused to accept positions on the mayoral committee (mayco). It was only when Helen Zille was appointed Knysna constituency head towards the end of 2018, that there was an acceptance to work together and cooperate.
This was done with the aim of achieving the desired results in the 2019 general elections.
Councillors Michelle Wasserman and Lavael Davis both then accepted positions on the mayco in January 2019, serving as chairpersons for planning and development, and technical services respectively, each having the authority to formulate and drive policies and programmes. Much of what Wasserman complains about therefore also fell within the scope of the duties of mayco members and councillors.
To highlight some of the priorities I have driven:
Investing in infrastructure-led growth (creating job opportunities): Our current infrastructure spend was adjusted during February 2019 to address these problems, because the 2018/2019 budget was lacking in this regard.
Knysna Business Chamber: I have driven an initiative to establish a Knysna Business Chamber and I am proud to say that this was launched this month by local businessman Mr Johnny Nkosi.
Potholes and road maintenance: Fixing potholes with determined timelines and maintaining municipal roads. The budget for this very important function for 2019/2020 has been increased to R27-million.
Access to basic services: Providing access to electricity, water and sanitation. The electrification of informal settlements is a priority and has been budgeted for.
Construction of the planned multi-purpose centres in White Location and Rheenendal: Grant funding from the Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant fund has been approved and progress is being made with the first phase in White Location, while the second phase is due to start in July/August 2019, with completion anticipated to be early 2020. We are awaiting the outcome of our request for funding for the Rheenendal centre;
Portfolio committees/directorates: The Human Settlements Department now has a dedicated full-time director seconded to Knysna Municipality from the provincial department to ensure that housing projects are monitored and controlled.
Streamlining the municipal organogram: When I became mayor, one of my first priorities was to ensure that the municipality has a capable workforce to ensure efficient service delivery and the organogram was approved in October 2018.
Indictment on predecessor
All of the above are priorities listed in the Knysna DA 2016 local manifesto, which have either been delivered on or are in progress. I must add that if Wasserman is of the view that the 2016 DA manifesto is not adequately represented in the municipality's planning processes, it is more of an indictment on my predecessor and one has to ask what she was doing about the manifesto for two years. Why would the motion against her then not have been justified on the same grounds? I am nevertheless confident that current priorities of the municipality do not conflict with DA manifesto outcomes.
With regard to strategic direction and political leadership… the municipality has only recently appointed a permanent municipal manager.
The relationship between him and I is critical to providing leadership and is something that can only now really be established… I believe that since my appointment, the top management of the administration is in a position for the first time in years where they can effectively implement the strategic direction provided and introduce effective accountability processes.
Wasserman has no mandate to speak on behalf of council, the administration or members of the public as to my "loss of credibility". I would like to see evidence of such utter rubbish. She questions the soundness of the mandate from my constituents regarding my vote in the motion of no confidence against the previous mayor, yet she herself claims to have enough mandate to make claims regarding my perceived loss of credibility.
Wasserman purports that I have failed to adhere to DA rules. I would like to point out that the DA has internal disciplinary processes and that I was initially charged when I supported the motion of no confidence against Eleanore Bouw-Spies, but finally absolved by the DA federal legal council of any wrongdoing. Ironically, the caucus has not obtained approval from the DA federal executive for the motion that they have submitted against me, which is in breach of the DA constitution.
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