Knysna Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa has confirmed that, at close of business on Monday, 24 October, he received a letter of resignation from Acting Municipal Manager Johannes Jonkers.
Though Mr. Jonkers did not cite any reasons for his resignation except that it is with immediate effect, it was handed in on the same day that he and others in the Municipality were served court papers by the Knysna Sheriff.
Others served papers by the Sheriff were the Executive Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Speaker of the Knysna Municipality, as well as the Council as a whole and those filling the seven new ‘political appointments’ that had been controversially approved by Knysna Council on 16 September.
The official court documents were served as a result of the Democratic Alliance approaching the Western Cape High Court on Friday, 21 October for urgent relief to overturn this council decision and terminate the employment contracts which they deemed illegal.
“The additional posts were created without any consideration of whether they were required or affordable, rendering the process unlawful. When the cadres were employed, no due process was followed. No advertisements for the “vacancies” were published, and no shortlisting of multiple candidates occurred. The Coalition of Corruption didn’t even try to hide the blatant nepotism in employing their cronies,” said Dion George, DA Constituency Head for Knysna.
As reported in our last edition of The EDGE, before the DA proceeded to court, they had written to the Acting Municipal Manager to demand that the illegal contracts be terminated.
“He replied that he had taken legal advice and had informed the political office bearers. He did not commit to terminating the contracts, and the DA proceeded to court,” said George, adding that despite his resignation, Jonkers would still be held to account.
“The money earmarked to pay for the illegal appointments was to be sourced from the temporary employment budget, which should pay for the employment of unemployed Knysna youth during the high season,” George stated.
Asked for comment about the serving of papers, Municipal spokesperson Christopher Bezuidenhoudt confirmed they had ‘Officially received a notice of motion from the Democratic Alliance on Monday, 24 October.”
“Matters of litigation are dealt with under delegated authority. In the absence of an acting Municipal Manager, we cannot, at this point in time, respond to what actions the Council will take. An ordinary meeting of the Council is scheduled for Thursday, 27 October, whereafter more information may become available.”
SEDGEFIELD RATEPAYERS AND RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION WEIGHS IN
SR&RA is deeply concerned by the news of Monday’s resignation of the Acting Municipal Manager, coming shortly after the announcement of pending legal action against the Knysna Municipality.
Decisions Knysna Municipality took in creating and filling seven new posts strongly suggest abuse of power on the part of the council. Although the SR&RA was initially assured that the need to change the organogram and the process followed was compliant, it now seems that it will be up to a high court judge to rule on the entire saga.
What is apparent is that no corresponding value-added service to the Sedgefield and Greater Knysna communities has been identified through the addition of these posts. This is despite an associated cost of approximately R3 million for zero additional service delivery to residents. These costs need to be viewed in light of the current financial year’s deficit and the municipality’s already stressed cash position. This is an extremely wasteful use of ratepayers’ and residents’ funds. Given the current Garden Route economic situation, the Knysna Municipality should be doing everything in its power to defer all unnecessary costs and create efficiencies that will directly support service delivery.
The SR&RA is dismayed at the flagrant attitude displayed by Knysna Municipality and the lack of transparency and respect for mandated procedures. Without a doubt, such behaviour flies in the face of the Municipality’s work ethic of being: *Inclusive, Innovative, and Inspired* for all its residents and ratepayers. The SR&RA intends to raise these serious concerns with the Knysna Municipality.
We expect SERVICE DELIVERY to be at the forefront of municipal decision-making, and the direct and indirect effects on these services should always guide the process.
Council should conduct business transparently and participatively, with all views considered and evaluated. SR&RA expects Knysna Municipality to act in the best interest of all Greater Knysna’s citizens.