Another ‘Motion of No Confidence’ (MONC) – the third the Knysna Council has considered in less than two weeks – was proposed at a Special Council Meeting on Tuesday 11 June. This time the motion targeted Deputy Mayor Ricky Van Aswegen (COPE).
After a secret ballot there were no less than nine abstentions. Of the eleven remaining ballots, eight councillors voted for van Aswegen’s removal and three against. The motion was carried, and a short while later ANC Councillor Aubrey Tsengwa was voted in as Deputy Mayor.
Only 12 days earlier DA Mayor Mark Willemse had survived the MONC brought against him, when a secret ballot brought a result of twelve votes to seven in his favour, with one spoiled vote.
This count meant that aside from the seven DA Caucus members who had put forward the motion, and thus presumably voted for his removal, plus the spoiled ballot, all the other councillors- including those of opposition parties – had voted for Willemse to retain his mayoral position.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Speaker Georlene Wolmarans lost the MONC against her by eleven votes to seven, with two spoiled ballots.
When nominations for a new speaker were called for, the ANC nominated Mertle ‘Titi’ Gombo. Quite unexpectedly, the DA nominated the just-ousted Georlene Wolmarans to go back into the speaker position.
Titi Gombo won by eleven votes to eight, with one ballot paper spoilt.
Asked for comment on the MONC against the Mayor, the Knysna Ratepayers Association issued the following hard-hitting statement.
“Michelle Wasserman and the six DA caucus members’ ill-considered motion of no confidence against Mark Willemse has backfired horribly, leaving them out in the cold and adding to the instability and uncertainty that Knysna has suffered since 2016, mostly due to factional battles in the DA and constant interference from regional DA leaders such as Jaco Londt, and provincial DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.
“That the motion was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 12 to 7 leaves us wondering why Councillor Wasserman steered the caucus into such a suicidal and reckless venture. Regardless of what Wasserman and Co were hoping to achieve, it ended in a predictable and humiliating defeat, and certainly does not inspire confidence in their ability to govern.
“We have full confidence in Mayor Mark Willemse to lead our town. The new Speaker, Councillor Gombo, has earned our respect through her impeccable conduct in Council, and we trust that she will perform her duties with honour and impartiality.
“We trust in Mayor Mark to successfully lead the town in cooperation with councillors who have Knysna’s best interests at heart, regardless of their political affiliation.”
Meanwhile, DA Western Cape Provincial Leader Bonginkosi Madikizela did not hold back when, soon after the failed MONC against Willemse, he issued the following statement entitled:-“DA to assume opposition role in Knysna”
It reads: “Following today’s failed Motion of No Confidence in Knysna Mayor Mark Willemse, who has been supported and kept in power by the ANC, the DA has been left with no option other than to assume an opposition role within the municipality. This was a difficult decision, but necessary in the best interest of the town. In the process, the ANC opted to institute a simultaneous Motion of No Confidence in the DA Speaker, which was supported by the ANC and other opposition parties.
“The DA will pursue all avenues within the party’s constitution to hold both Councillor Peter Myers and Mayor Mark Willemse to account.
“Despite the DA’s best efforts to implement its manifesto and the will of the voters, we have been met by two of our own councillors who refuse to uphold the party’s internal rules and regulations.
“The actions of Mayor Willemse is a disregard and in violation of the DA’s internal processes. They are a law unto themselves and risk ungovernability in Knysna, which sets a dangerous precedent that must be dealt with swiftly.
“Both were elected on a DA election ticket, are DA members and are subject to DA regulations. They continue to ignore the leadership of the party, their fellow DA councillors and the DA regulations.
“We respect the processes and outcomes of today’s council and will continue to support the DA councillors who, from the opposition benches, will fight to restore the trust of the Knysna residents.”
RATEPAYERS RESPOND TO DA’S ‘OPPOSITION’ CLAIM.
Incensed by the above statement and the goings on during the Special Council Meeting on 11 June, Knysna Ratepayers have come out with blazing guns against the DA hierarchy. On Tuesday afternoon they issued the following statement:-
“The Knysna DA’s robot caucus of seven reached dizzying new heights of farce at today’s special council meeting when a DA Councillor asserted that because the official opposition is generally awarded the chairmanship of the MPAC committee, that chairmanship should go to the DA.
“There are currently nine DA councillors, eight ANC councillors and three councillors from smaller parties. Last time we checked, nine is still bigger than eight. The DA still has a majority on Council. The ANC is still the official opposition, not the DA.
“And here is where the plot thickens. Out-of-town DA party bosses have said that because DA Mayor Mark Willemse recently overcame a DA-sponsored vote of no confidence with the support of the ANC, he is no longer a member of the DA, and must, therefore, be an ANC mayor.
“Of course, that’s utter nonsense. Willemse is a member of the DA unless and until he is removed in accordance with the DA’s own formal, lengthy procedures. Even members of today’s new, increasingly-Leninist DA are still entitled to due process.
“Willemse has steadfastly withstood the out-of-town party bosses’ smear campaign and has prevailed in all of the unfounded disciplinary proceedings brought against him to date. So Mark Willemse is still Knysna’s DA mayor, Peter Myers is still a DA councillor, and the DA is not the official opposition. That’s an incontrovertible fact.
“But the DA is bent on putting personal loyalties and party discipline ahead of service delivery. It’s new-found penchant for faulty maths and fake news are hollowing out its support town-wide. If the DA’s robot caucus of seven continues this charade, the party’s narrow margin on Council may evaporate.”