Back to drawing board for DA after failure to reclaim Knysna municipality
Cape Town - It is back to the drawing board for the DA after an attempt to regain power through a motion of no confidence in the Knysna municipality failed.
Despite the party holding the majority of seats in council at 10 out of 21, they could not garner the required 11 votes to oust Cope mayor Elrick van Aswegen and ANC speaker Mertle Gombo even after securing an alliance with the ACDP.
The ANC controls the council with eight seats in alliance with COPE and the Knysna Unity Congress (KUC).
The motion was tabled earlier this week during a special council meeting called to debate and vote on the motion through a secret ballot. However, secret ballot vote ensures that the DA will never know whether their alliance with the ACDP failed or another one of their councillors went rogue and voted with the opposition, something their former mayor and DA councillor Mark Willemse was fired for.
Knysna’s DA constituency head Dion George said the party is disappointed by the outcome of the motions.
“The outcome of the vote was 10 councillors in favour and 11 against. Given the secret ballot conducted, it is not possible to identify which councillor did not vote with the DA. The DA will therefore remain in opposition and ensure that the ANC/Cope/KUC coalition is effectively held to account,” he said.
“Although the outcome is disappointing, we assure the people of Knysna that we remain committed to the town and its people. The DA acknowledges the support given to us in the recent by-elections and will work tirelessly to ensure a better Knysna for everyone.
“With local elections scheduled for later this year, the DA will work towards an outright victory.”
Gombo said the ANC was happy with the outcome of the motion which showed that the alliance currently in place to run the municipality is still strong.
“This is the best outcome for the municipality at this stage because changing council and leadership takes it back and slows any progress that was in place,” she said.
“It is no secret that the municipality has had its share of struggles, mainly issues around cash flow but we are steadily addressing that. We have appointed an acting CFO who will stay on until the post is filled and we are confident that we have someone capable to properly manage the affairs of the municipality.
“It is a new year, an election year but we must stay focused on serving the diverse communities of Knysna from its richest to poorest and ensure that the municipality enacts on its mandate and sets aside the politics.”
Last year, the municipality was plagued by resignations including that of chief financial officer (CFO) Mbulelo Memani who first resigned in May, retracted it before finally stepping down in October to be replaced by Morne Michaels as acting CFO.
In a year the municipality also appointed three different acting municipal managers after the suspension of Sithembele Vatala in February. Vatala was first replaced by Dr Michel Gratz who resigned at the end of May followed by Dr Louis Scheepers whose term ended in December when Dawid Adonis stepped in three weeks ago.