End of the road for deputy mayor?
The mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who is overseas, concurred with what Wolmarans said.
Permission has been given for the DA in Knysna to bring a vote of no confidence against deputy mayor Peter Myers, which could result in him being removed from the position.
This could happen anytime in the near future. Permission has been given by the federal executive (FedEx) of the DA, whose chair is James Selfe.
Alan Winde, minister of economic opportunities for the Western Cape government, was the one to tell Myers of this decision, on Monday 9 October.
Selfe said the Knysna DA caucus had “lost confidence in Mr Myers and that procedure was then followed. The Western Cape executive committee concluded there was a breakdown between Myers and the caucus”, which is why permission was granted to go ahead with the vote of no confidence.
According to Selfe, Myers was given the option to voluntarily resign and this was explained to him by Winde. “We would rather have had Myers resign, but he [Myers] made it clear he would not, so the matter now has to take its course.”
Reaction from councillors
The reaction to this news has been varied, with some opposition parties expressing the feeling that the DA should sort out “personal vendettas” or else they will be forced to take action, while DA councillors have been silent.
Knysna speaker and DA PR member Georlene Wolmarans was unable to comment and said that this [the DA caucus being given the go-ahead to hold a meeting and vote for no confidence in the deputy mayor] was a DA matter and that DA party policy prohibits anybody besides the constituency head from commenting on the matter. She added that no DA councillor is permitted to comment.
Myers against tourism SLA
Myers recently fell foul of the DA caucus at a meeting at which the council voted to sign a new service level agreement (SLA) with the town’s tourism agency Knysna & Partners. At this meeting, Myers made his position clear – that signing the R4-million contract with Knysna & Partners for another year is illegal in terms of the Municipal Management Financial Act section 173 and that it should have been put out to tender.
At a meeting on 11 August, when the DA caucus voted for the SLA to be granted, Myers walked out of the meeting, thus absenting himself from voting.
Although the SLA was on the agenda and had yet to be ratified, it had already been signed on 11 July by municipal manager Kam Chetty, rendering it in Myer’s opinion “illegal both procedurally and substantively [the actual content of the agreement being questionable]”.
The move to remove Myers has been received with questions being asked: What due process was followed and what evidence actually came before the FedEx? Why has the FedEx allowed the motion against Myers when he says he has not been given the opportunity to address the decision makers in person or question the persons who brought the complaint against him?
Myers said, what is more, the question needs to be asked how Winde and the federal executive can authorise a course of action that is specifically prohibited under the caucus rules and the DA federal constitution.
‘Trying to uphold DA values’
Asked for comment Myers, said he believes he is “one of the very few caucus members in Knysna trying to uphold DA values, principles and policies, including open, transparent, accountable and good governance”.
The deputy mayor said he has not been told what the charges against him are, and that he has never been accused of corruption or any kin dof mal admin i st ratio n du ring h is ten ure as deputy mayor and Ward 10 councillor. “No concrete reasons have been given tome as to how the federal executive came to this decision,” stated
‘Service delivery suffering’
A strong opinion was given by Cope councillor Ricky Van Aswegen when he said that unless the DA sort out their “personal vendettas instead of focusing on serious issues”, opposition parties would need to take action.
“It is no secret the problem is between the mayor and the deputy mayor. I have spoken to both of them and said we cannot as a council carry on like this.”
Van Aswegen said his stance remains the same as always. “The DA created its problems and now they need to do something about this instead of holding the municipality and council at gunpoint. Service delivery, which is what we should be focusing on, is already suffering because of the DA’s problems and issues.”
‘DA issues bad for the town’
ANC PR councillor Titi Gombo echoed Van Aswegen’s sentiments. “We will have to wait and see what the DA do now at a special council meeting. Until then we can’t say much except that if the DA can’t resolve their internal politics then as opposition parties we will have to do something.”
Both councillors said this whole issue within the DA is bad for the town.
ACDP PR councillor Shakespeare Arends said he was unaware that the matter was in the public domain. “Because I am in co-governance with the DA, I usually take my lead from the mayor, and since she is overseas this week I will not be able to say anything,” he said.
When asked to comment, municipal manager Chetty reiterated what he said when he took office: “I do not get involved in party politics, but must ensure the procedures followed are correct.”
Western Cape DA regional head Jaco Londt confirmed that this move only affects Myers’ position as deputy mayor and will not amount to a removal of him as a councillor.
Knysna deputy mayor Peter Myers in front of the municipality.