The heated battle of wills continues between coalitions in Knysna Council regarding seven political appointments approved on 16 September by the ANC and its coalition partners. Whilst ANC Executive Mayor Aubrey Tsengwa stands by his statement that Council made this resolution in line with the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, the opposition is still calling it ‘cadre deployment’.

Indeed the DA/KIM coalition has stated unequivocally that these appointments were both unnecessary and illegal and that their parties are convinced due process was not followed.

On 11 October, the DA in Knysna took the matter further, sending a legal demand to the Acting Municipal Manager, Johannes Jonkers.

The 11-page, 49-point letter, sent from the offices of Cape Town legal firm Minde Schapiro & Smith, alleges that

1. The appointments did not meet general and competency requirements;

2. The Municipality did not advertise the vacant posts;

3. Applicants did not apply on the prescribed forms;

4. There was no selection committee;

5. The Municipality did not shortlist and interview applicants;

6. The Municipality did not consider references and conduct personal credential verification; and

7. The Municipality acted for an ulterior purpose.

It also mentions that in one case, well-known politician Elrick van Aswegen is now employed in the Executive Mayor’s office as a political advisor. “Council did not approve the creation of this post on 16 September 2022. Council approved a political advisor for the Deputy Executive Mayor. But Mr Aswegen (has) commenced employment as a political advisor in the Executive Mayor’s office. Mr van Aswegen was originally a member of the Congress of the People but then stood for the ANC in the last local government elections.

The legal brief concludes with a demand from the DA that the Acting Municipal Manager should “cease any steps in the appointments to the seven posts. The Acting Municipal Manager must not sign any employment contracts with the relevant persons, or otherwise facilitate their appointment.” and further, that he “takes steps to reverse the appointments, to the extent that the appointments have already been made, and the creation of the posts. These steps may include introducing a resolution to repeal the appointments and the creation of the posts. The steps could also include approaching the High Court for appropriate relief.”

In a press statement issued along with a copy of the legal letter, DA Constituency Head for Knysna Dion George demands that the Acting Municipal Manager “immediately rescind the illegal appointments of political cronies in the Knysna Municipality.” He alleges that the appointments will result in an unbudgeted cost of R3 million per annum, which the ratepayers of Greater Knysna will have to pay.

“If the Municipal Manager does not withdraw these illegal appointments, the matter will be going to court,” he said.