JEF has had the opportunity to read the 8th Mayoral Newsletter by Mayor Memory Booysen, and we would like to take this opportunity to respond to the newsletter as follow:
Subject: 8th Mayoral Newsletter
MAYORAL NEWSLETTER March 2012
Greetings from my office. We are now almost 3 months into 2012 and I have a number of events to report to you.
In my last letter I informed you that the hearing of the previous Municipal Manager had been finalized by Judge Combrinck, and that he was found guilty on 4 out of the 7 charges. He was subsequently dismissed. The vacant position of Municipal Manager has been advertised and the closing date was 9 March 2012. Mr Thys Giliomee is presently the Acting Municipal Manager.
I would like to thank Mr. Duppie Du Plessis for his invaluable contribution to the municipality. Mr Du Plessis’s contract with Bitou as acting Municipal Manager ended on the 29th of Feb 2012. We would have liked to retain his services but, due to legal constraints governing the length of time an acting Municipal Manager can occupy the position, he could no longer continue. He has accepted a new contract at the Overberg Municipality. We wish Duppie everything of the best in his new task.
Finally, after how many warnings, the municipality accepted that Duppie’s term of serving as acting Municipal Manager is constrained by legislation. We are sure that the DA will miss him very much, for what we do however not know. We do however know that the town will miss Carl Mattheus, the former director of corporate services whose contract has been terminated because he constantly brought the applicable legislation under the municipality’s attention, as well as the fact that Duppie’s, as well as Thys Giliomee’s appointments are illegal. Regarding the dismissed municipal manager, we hope the municipality is prepared (for the highly likely scenario) that he will report for duty as soon as his findings of guilty are overturned.
OTHER SENIOR OFFICIALS – SECTION 56
Five other senior officials have also decided to leave our services before serving out their contracts. Amicable arrangements between them and the municipality were agreed. The following posts were vacated:
- Manager Town Planning
- Supply Chain Manager
- Legal Services Manager
- Human Resources Manager
- Manager Electrical Services
I would like to take this opportunity to thank “Oom” Thomas Nqolo for his long service in the municipality. “Oom” Tom cannot continue working, due to serious illness.
I also thank Mr Keith Jordaan for assisting in the drafting of the adjustment budget.
Some of the posts mentioned above will be advertised in due course, after the appointment of the new Municipal Manager. Due to all these posts being vacant we are in for a bit of a rough ride, but I know that Council and staff will make sure that services are not hampered.
Amicably indeed, like poor Oom Tom who was dismissed while lying in his hospital bed, and the other staff who had to endure the intolerable purging strategy of Thys Giliomee, after being suspected of leaking information to JEF about certain questionable tenders, curious new American PDI’s, and needless deviation reports. For the record, the last four years prior to June 2011, not one deviation tender was awarded. Since June 2011, each and every tender was awarded on deviation. Surely the red lights must start flickering now? The purging strategy is neatly explained in the email attached hereto from Thys Giliomee, addressed to the Mayor of Breede Vallei and to MEC Anton Bredell, along with the other members of the War Room. War Room Email
Just like Bitou and numerous other small town municipalities in the Western Cape, they also had the privilege of enjoying the service of Thys Giliomee with his 6 degrees to make their town a better place. The content of this email speaks for it-self, and hopefully it will cause even the most diehard DA supporter to start challenging the morals and goals of his party.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Bitou is one of the first municipalities in the Western Cape to table its adjustment budget. Within an election year you cannot change the budget in any way within the first six months. As a result we are still working with the previous council’s budget. The adjustment budget has trimmed down the old budget to a far more realistic amount.
Within the adjustment budget provision has been made for a Mayoral Intervention Fund. The purpose of this fund is to provide funding for education, health, sport, general upliftments and especially the Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP). The purpose of this programme is to specifically alleviate poverty. For every Rand we spend, the Department of Public Works (National) will give us R1-00 plus. Examples of EPWP projects include alien clearing, cleaning of beaches and cleaning of dumping sites. All this will kick in this month.
The new Council will have its own first zero based budget as from the 1st of July 2012.
This sounds really exciting and positive. It is a pity that the cheap shot aimed at the previous regime can only cause one to question the credibility of this promise.
Bitou again received an unqualified audit for the 2011/2012 financial year even though this municipality does not have enough cash reserves to fulfill all its service obligations. The Municipal Financial Stability Index (MFSI) gave Bitou one of the worst scores in the country.
Unfortunately we foresee that the 2012/2013 audit will be qualified. This is due to the R29m land deal in New Horizons that was signed by the previous Municipal Manager. This issue cannot be commented on further as it is sub judice.
In a perfect world the public will read the financial statements for themselves and then make an informed decision regarding the state of affairs when the town was handed over to the new administration. Moreover, in a perfect world the public will read the transcription of the exhaustive evidence that was given by Brian Molefe on the subject as well as the attempt to challenge his evidence by Thys Giliomee. In a perfect world the public will also take cognizance of the finding of Judge Combrinck when he accepted Brian Molefe’s evidence in totality and further stated that he was a reliable and honest witness, and did not attempt to favour any party when delivering his evidence. And lastly in a perfect world the public will read Mayor Booysen’s own evidence and grasp that he and the so called turnaround expert, Duppie Du Plessis, are the sole cause of the multimillion Rand claim against Bitou, in favour of PROVINCE, after ignoring legal advice and numerous warnings in this regard. Unfortunately we do not live in a perfect world, we live in a world where the sheep mentality reigns and the vast majority of the public would rather believe what is spoon fed to them by the party for which they voted and of course, what is then confirmed to them in their favourite news paper, written by their favourite journalists. The really sad part is that these very same members of the public will also believe that the mayor actually respects and abides by the sub judice rule, despite the countless media articles fed to and published by “team Oelofse”, in various news papers prior to the hearing of this case, with the sole intent of manipulating the public’s (and the courts) perception of the matter.
The Ratings Africa report is purely based on financial ratios. Their rating does not take the level of service delivery in a municipal area into account. The rating for Bitou may seem bad but if you compare its level of service delivery and support to indigent and poor households it outperforms most municipalities. The purpose of the R30m loan that the municipality took up was solely to improve its liquidity by 30 June 2012.The Rating Africa rating would then have improved remarkably putting the municipality back under the top performing municipalities as far as financial ratios are concerned. The current administration is wasting money and therefore the purpose of taking up the loan is by now almost defeated.
If you look at ratings about the productivity of municipalities which measures service delivery, the municipality is under the 10 best performing municipalities in the country (refer to the Municipal IQ ratings). It does not help sitting with a lot of cash reserves but you don’t deliver services to your residents.
JEF cannot see what the link between the land transaction and the audit outcome of the 2011/2012 financial year is. We think they prepare their constituency for the worst because they created an unstable administration and procurement practice (e.g Didata, security for Mayor, fruitless expenditure by paying out settlement packages to employees etc.)
Recently Plett has been rocked by violence under the pretense of lack of service delivery. On the 1st of Feb 2012 a march by the residents of Bossiesgif/Qolweni to the main municipality building took place. A memorandum with numerous grievances was handed over to me. The main issues however were; the supply of electricity to informal dwellings which are built on privately owned land; and a demand that the municipality immediately stop the upgrading of Piesang Valley, Robberg and Wittedrift Roads. They felt that the contract workers working on the projects should come from Bossiesgif/Qolweni. Some of these demands were illegal. For example, by law, a municipality cannot electrify houses on privately owned land. It is also illegal to stop adjudicated tenders due to labour related issues.
In the Memorandum I was given 7 days to respond, but violence erupted on the 3rd of Feb 2012 with the stoning of vehicles, burning of tyres and the looting of factories in the Industrial Area. This necessitated bringing in the Riot Squad to calm the situation. The Justice and Equality Front (JEF) led by Mr. Hardy Mills then signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the so called Qolweni Front representing the disgruntled residents. With his assistance, a second set of demands were sent to the municipality
I, together with the Deputy Mayor and SAPS, addressed the protesters on the 3rd of Feb 2012 at the soccer field in Bossiesgif/Qolweni, and twice after that at our Fire Station. They refused to accept our answers and solutions. They kept on accusing me in the media of not engaging them.
This was followed a week later by the dismantling of shacks of community leaders who are perceived to be sympathetic to the DA/COPE run Council. A number of families had to be relocated to municipal houses after their shacks, furniture and personal belongings were destroyed by the ring leaders. Cases have been opened and a number of arrests have been made.
This was followed up by an arson attack on the municipality main building. Major damage was caused to the ground floor, the Municipal Manager’s office and my office. Due to the extensive damage, employees had to be laid off for a week. The insurance company will give us the full cost of the damage incurred. Two suspects were immediately arrested and the number has since increased to four. One of the suspects has subsequently indicated that he will turn state witness.
It is interesting to note that the JEF is representing the suspects for both the arson and the public violence.
Unfortunately the problems will not disappear if you merely shift the blame and dismiss the issues as trivial and part of a conspiracy theory. Moreover, can the mayor please explain how exactly will the ANC regain power by these actions what they are being accused for? Will the election results magically change and bring the ANC back to power? For the more inquisitive members of the public, please inquire from the local security companies, as well from the relevant police units who actually had to deal with the situation, whether JEF and/or Mills & Lombard and/or Hardy Mills had anything to do with the riots. If you are still not convinced, please go and listen to the court recording of the bail application where the investigating officer testified that the reason for the riots and arson attack were, according to the official police investigation, because of the lack of service delivery and broken election promises by the DA, and had nothing to do with any specific political party. Also, please read the official police report where the role which JEF played as mediator, and achieving a “cease fire” are properly and officially recorded. JEF warned the mayor and the Provincial Government that it will only be a temporarily “cease fire” and that urgent negotiations are required to finally resolve the disputes. Unfortunately, instead the municipality listened to Brummer who convinced them that stronger and more aggressive police action is the only solution and we quote “as in the days of PW Botha”. Obviously this strategy did not, and will never work. Now the protests and violence spread to other areas of Bitou, the latest being Kranshoek. JEF has committed to talk to this community on Monday 19 March 2012, the time and place to be informed. JEF also agreed to appoint and pay for the legal representation for the 5 Kranshoekers that were arrested last week, as we did for the Bossiesgif/Qolweni community. The principle of give and take proved to be very helpful in negotiating peaceful and amicable solutions instead of violent protest, and JEF will keep on applying this method for as long as it remains effective.
JEF could not help noticing the stark contrast in the perspective of the authors of two letters published in the CXPRESS dated 7 March 2012, as well as the “bit agitated” editor’s comment thereon. This is a very good example of two different types of members of our community. We quote:
“ Musings on arson and riots:
Was the arson attack on the municipal buildings in Plett an attempt by the previous local government to destroy all evidence regarding irregularities and corruption during their term of office? Was this act instigated by a certain political party which is no longer in power and does not accept democratic procedures like losing an election?
Were the riots and subsequent blockade of the N2 really about jobs or about the new mayor? Was this an effort to make Plett ungovernable as has often been threatened by a certain political party? Who will have to foot the bill for all the damage to buildings, roads, bridge and vehicles?
Who is going to invest in a town as violent as ours? Do these people realise that the only way to create jobs is to attract investments?
(It is always interesting to witness how effectively the various political propaganda machines succeed in moulding mind-sets. See the letter below for another opinion – backed with facts, and penned by a long-time investor in Plett – on the origin of the recent unrest, as well as the arson News Brief on the Home page. – Eds.)
Author: ‘Worried Taxpayer’, by email
Powers that be could have averted riots
My partners and I privately own land in the affected area of Plett Industria. The stand is some 20’000m² in extent and has been illegally occupied by informal residents/squatters for many years.
We have tried unsuccessfully with the previous ANC council, and now with the DA-led council, to have this property boughtand officially incorporated into Qolweni/Bossiesgif.Council maps, illegally, already show this incorporation.
Part of the industrial township, the property is zoned industrialand is substantially more valuable than residential land. In my opinion, the previous and current councils are totally to blame for the recent riots- I state the following reasons:
Period 2005 to 2011
In 2005 we were approached by the Bitou Municipality-appointed lawyer with a view to purchase our land, but the council broke off negotiations.
In 2008, council commissioned an independent valuation of the affected sites (we are in possession of this document) and this valuation was accepted as being accurate. But again, council refused to engage with us and cancelled or simply did not show up for appointments.
I’m not sure of the exact dates, but a few years ago shacks burned down and council provided wood to illegally erect new shacks.
May 2011 to present
The new DA council has been totally ineffective in addressing the issue. The Western Cape Minister of Housing at least twice visited the squatter camp during 2011, first in July and then in November. He indicated that province would provide funds to purchase the affected properties subject to final valuation and relevant paperwork from council to province.
But all we have from council after nine months in power are the usual platitudes, broken appointments, and zero action.
In short, Bitou Municipality has been aware of this ticking time-bomb for many years, and knows it is illegal to provide services on land it does not own. It has been withholding this information from the residents/squatters who are illegally occupying – with their approval – privately-owned land.
Author: Peeved Investor, by email”
JEF is well aware of the meeting attended by two local attorneys; one “reputable” estate agent, Brummer, Thys Giliomee and a few businessmen who vowed to destroy and rid Plettenberg Bay off the “destructive presence” of Hardy Mills. JEF is furthermore well aware of the efforts and influence of the one attorney who recently succeeded in having the Cape Law Society rule that Mills may no longer use his own surname to practice in Plettenberg Bay. JEF is also well aware of all the planned actions against Mills in future with the sole intention of destroying his credibility and occupying his time with defending frivolous and malicious charges against him. JEF can assure them that their plans and schemes will not succeed.
The Di Data saga has unfortunately not died down, due to numerous incorrect and malicious statements by JEF. We are confident that the processes followed were legitimate and that the Di Data involvement was in the best interests of the municipality.
We asked the Provincial Minister of Local Government (Minister Anton Bredell) to launch an independent investigation, which he has done. We are awaiting the outcome.
It is certainly not all doom and gloom. We have made remarkable progress in turning the municipality around.
According to our sources, and to our astonishment, the MEC decided not to cover up and protect Brummer and his associates this time. The dooming report was supposed to be made public last week, but due to immense pressure from very influential people in the DA, the outcome of the report has been postponed for two weeks. Although the facts of the matter remain the same, it is a flip of the coin what the outcome of this investigation will be, depending of course on who carries the most weight in the determination thereof. Judging by his decisions in the past, JEF suspects that the MEC will buckle under the pressure and find that everything was absolutely above board and in the best interest of the municipality and rate payers. Wouldn’t that be a big surprise?
I am fully aware of the importance of Ward Committees and the importance of public participation in Local Government. This has been delayed due to financial constraints, but we are now ready to roll it out. The new system will be sectorialy based and not be used as a nepotistic job creation exercise as under the previous regime.
We will be appointing six Ward Committee members per ward except for Ward 1, where there will be ten. Ward 1 is geographically the biggest and has a number of separate communities which must be catered for.
Unfortunately we cannot continue to pay R1000-00 per member per month as in the past. We will now be paying R200-00 per member per meeting. Meetings will take place on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis.
The focus of the Ward Committees will be to provide input to Mayco and Council regarding issues and problems in their communities. They will no longer receive the Mayco and Council agendas as we feel this is reactive instead of being pro-active. Issues identified by the communities will be forwarded to Mayco and Council for attention. The Ward Councillor will then give feedback to the communities via the Ward Committee.
The sectors that will be used are still to be determined but would include sectors such as religion, sport, and culture. Advertisements will appear in the local media for interested sector leaders. The applicants will be evaluated and Mayco will make the appointments.
In the past Ward Committees have been highly politicised. I feel that this is totally wrong and that those appointed are there to serve as representatives of the community regardless of political affiliations. We will not tolerate the misuse of the Ward Committee system in this way in future.
We support the Ward Committee system and hope that it will be a huge success in the future. JEF just wonders; will the mayor’s niece, who works for him in the mayor’s office, or the previous speaker’s American previously disadvantaged girlfriend, who calls herself “Assistant to the speaker” be in charge of this project?
We are pleased to announce that a recommendation has been made to appoint the preferred bidder, who will give a presentation to council for final adjudication. We will hopefully be turning soil shortly. Further developments will be communicated to the public at large.
This unfortunately sounds all too familiar.
A number of positive developments have taken place on the Tourism Front.
There was an urgent requirement to create a new voluntary association, independent of political control, to run tourism. It was realized that it would be very difficult to create a new Association from scratch. To short cut this process, an approach was made to the Guest Accommodation and Activities Association (GAA) which has a very large membership base. The GAA already represents accommodation establishments, restaurants, adventure operators and businesses. We are grateful that the GAA accepted the challenge and we hope to transform this organization into the new Plettenberg Bay Tourism Association.
Running in parallel to this process, the municipality is engaging all communities in consultative meetings to determine the wishes of the communities. Very positive results have so far been achieved. The whole process will be concluded by the end of June 2012, so that a new Tourism Association will be ready to operate as from the 1st of July 2012 (new financial year).
The new association will sign a service level agreement with the municipality. This agreement will spell out exactly what the municipality requires of the association. It is important to note that we feel the Tourism Association should not only be tasked with marketing the town from a tourism point of view but should also market the town as a business destination. In this regard I would like to invite the Business Chamber to engage with the present process. We need everybody working in the same direction to get our town back on its feet economically.
I would also request that far closer cooperation with Knysna be fostered. We can achieve far more by cooperating with our neighbours than competing for an ever decreasing slice of the pie.
Thank you Plett Business Chamber for this initiative. We are confident that for as long as politics are kept away from tourism, the industry will be a major success again.
ORGANIZATIONAL DESIGN (OD Design)
The Western Cape Government has funded Bitou Municipality to the tune of R1,9m to go out on tender to do an organizational design for the municipality. The company that won the tender was PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). This process has started and within the next 7 months, starting from the Municipal Manager down to the lowest graded employee, everybody’s skills will be assessed, job descriptions will be formulated and performance contracts will be drawn up. The size of the staff compliment will also be evaluated.
This exercise is to enable the municipality to be a far sleeker and more efficient establishment to deliver services at the highest level with the least financial implications to rate payers and tourists. This also includes the restructuring of all existing departments to enable more hands-on employees to do more work more effectively. In the process we will be addressing cronyism and cadre deployment where unqualified staff are sitting in senior positions, earning fat salaries and doing nothing.
Please read the previous letters from the mayor and notice the various contradictions therein regarding this matter. Finally JEF understands why the previous municipal manager was charged for the “not signing of the design” (although it was common knowledge that he did), and why he was disciplinary charged therefore, and why he was eventually found guilty, although the evidence was undisputed that the design was signed off and approved, and the municipality’s own witnesses testified in detail how long it took and what a specialized and gigantic process it was. This did not cost the tax payer one cent, but apparently R1.9M must now be spent to do the exact same thing. We are sure that the “other” part of our community can work out exactly what the reason for this is after connecting the dots, why don’t you try?
In future the municipality will be run as a business and not as an organization of political untouchables or an employment agency.
We are convinced that the only way a municipality can be run as a business is to do away with politics (and by implication the whole council) in municipalities. JEF will pursue this goal no matter how impossible it may seem at this stage. We respectfully submit that that there is absolutely no need for any political office bearers in any municipality and that it would be far more effectively managed and run by professionals without the burden of politics, as it is supposed to be. Politics may play a role and have a place in Provincial and National Government, but definitely not in Local Government. The public’s input and ideas on this controversial issue would be highly appreciated.
Thank you for your time and invaluable inputs in running the municipality. Please also note that in future Mayoral Letters will not be on a monthly basis, but issued as events unfold.
Executive Mayor of Bitou