Knys­na de­stroying it’s own tou­rism po­ten­ti­al

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Letters | Briewe -

S­te­phen de V­ries, Knys­na wri­tes:

Knys­na tou­rism sec­tor, our main e­co­no­mic dri­ver, seems to be the next victim of the con­ti­nu­ed po­li­ti­cal in­sta­bi­li­ty within the DA. The DA-led coun­cil has fai­led to re­sol­ve through which me­cha­nism to de­li­ver the tou­rism functi­on for the past fi­ve y­e­ars.

On 24 Ja­nu­a­ry 2013, Knys­na coun­cil re­sol­ved to ex­tend the ser­vi­ce le­vel agreement (SLA) with Knys­na Tou­rism for one y­e­ar and that “the fi­nal draft op­ti­ons re­la­ting to the fu­tu­re of the en­ti­ty to be ta­bled with coun­cil for con­si­de­ra­ti­on, with con­co­mi­tant re­com­men­da­ti­ons”. A y­e­ar la­ter on 24 March 2014, in the ab­sen­ce of any re­port on fu­tu­re op­ti­ons, coun­cil a­gain ex­ten­ded the SLA and en­dor­sed in prin­ci­ple the or­ga­ni­sa­ti­o­nal chan­ges in Knys­na Tou­rism (then Knys­na & Part­ners). At t­his sta­ge, coun­cil seems to be sa­tis­fied with the ser­vi­ce and new ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty me­a­su­res put in pla­ce in­clu­ding re­por­ting monthly to the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee. W­hat hap­pe­ned to Secti­on 78 re­port?

Two y­e­ars la­ter, on 27 Au­gust 2015, and yet a­gain in the ab­sen­ce of a re­port on fu­tu­re op­ti­ons, coun­cil agreed to a new SLA for 12 mont­hs and re­sol­ved that “the mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger be in­structed to im­me­di­a­te­ly un­der­ta­ke an in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on as per Secti­on 78 of the Lo­cal Go­vern­ment: Mu­ni­ci­pal Sys­tems Act, 2000 re­gar­ding the me­cha­nism to pro­vi­de the lo­cal tou­rism functi­on”. The op­ti­ons to be in­ves­ti­ga­ted was to con­ti­nue with cur­rent ar­ran­ge­ment through grant-in­aid, de­li­ver the ser­vi­ce in-hou­se, mu­ni­ci­pal en­ti­ty or u­sing sup­ply chain pro­cess (ten­der).

Three y­e­ar la­ter on 31May 2016, in the ab­sen­ce of the Secti­on 78 re­port on the op­ti­ons, coun­cil yet a­gain ex­ten­ded the SLA and re­sol­ved that “an am­pli­fied com­pre­hen­si­ve re­port on the de­li­very of the lo­cal tou­rism mu­ni­ci­pal functi­on be sub­mit­ted to a spe­ci­al mu­ni­ci­pal coun­cil meet­ing w­he­re, a­mong ot­hers, the fol­lo­wing de­li­very me­cha­nis­ms are dis­cus­sed and a­na­ly­sed. The three op­ti­ons to be in­ves­ti­ga­ted we­re a mu­ni­ci­pal en­ti­ty, in­de­pen­dent bo­dy and a pu­blic-pri­va­te part­ners­hip. Coun­cil e­ven re­sol­ved to in­ves­ti­ga­te the re­a­sons why the 2015 re­so­lu­ti­on was not im­ple­men­ted. Still no men­ti­on of re­port

Four y­e­ars la­ter on 26 May 2017, coun­cil agreed “that the new ser­vi­ce le­vel agreement be for a pe­ri­od of up to three y­e­ars and that an a­mount of up to R4-mil­li­on per y­e­ar be pro­vi­ded for in the an­nu­al bud­gets ap­pro­ved by the mu­ni­ci­pal coun­cil” and “that the new ser­vi­ce le­vel agreement be ne­go­ti­a­ted on be­half of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty by a wor­king group con­sis­ting of the exe­cu­ti­ve ma­yor, exe­cu­ti­ve de­pu­ty ma­yor, acting mu­ni­ci­pal ma­na­ger and the di­rec­tor Plan­ning and De­ve­lop­ment”. Im­por­tant to no­te that no men­ti­on of the Secti­on 78 re­port and the in­ves­ti­ga­ti­on in­to the re­a­sons for not exe­cu­ting the 2015 coun­cil re­so­lu­ti­on, was ma­de. Need­less to say, to da­te (26 Ju­ne 2018) the­re is no sig­ned SLA.

To­day fi­ve y­e­ars la­ter, no SLA and Knys­na Tou­rism a­bout to c­lo­se. How did we get he­re?

Fi­ve y­e­ars ago, so­meo­ne in Knys­na Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, sup­por­ted by so­me in the pri­va­te sec­tor, moo­t­ed the i­dea of put­ting the tou­rism functi­on out on ten­der and a re­port was broug­ht to coun­cil sta­ting that the grant-in-aid ar­ran­ge­ment was il­le­gal be­cau­se tou­rism is a mu­ni­ci­pal functi­on and must be do­ne in terms of sup­ply chain ma­na­ge­ment. Tou­rism SLA mo­re lu­cra­ti­ve?

No men­ti­on was ma­de of the grant-in­aid for Knys­na A­ni­mal Wel­fa­re and LIRA (for S­teen­bok Na­tu­re Re­ser­ve) and P­led­ge Na­tu­re Re­ser­ve. Lo­cal tou­rism, pounds (a­ni­mal) and parks are all mu­ni­ci­pal functi­ons in terms of the Con­sti­tu­ti­on and the or­ga­ni­sa­ti­ons, a­bo­ve all, de­li­ver a ser­vi­ce on be­half of the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty – all le­gal­ly in terms of sig­ned SLAs and bud­ge­ted an­nu­al­ly by the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty. Ho­we­ver, it seems that the SLA with Knys­na Tou­rism was the on­ly con­cern for so­me, per­haps be­cau­se it looks mo­re lu­cra­ti­ve than the ot­hers. Just saying.

SLAs be­t­ween mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties and lo­cal tou­rism bo­dies are the most com­mon ar­ran­ge­ment a­cross the coun­try. E­very y­e­ar the mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties, through its trans­pa­rent grant-in-aid pro­ces­ses, sign SLAs with lo­cal tou­rism bo­dies.

Knys­na Tou­rism is not a pri­va­te for­pro­fit com­pa­ny, but a not-for-pro­fit com­pa­ny es­ta­blis­hed in terms of Secti­on 21 of Com­pa­nies Act 61 of 1973 and is mem­bers­hip ba­sed. Too ma­ny le­gal o­pi­ni­ons

Im­por­tant­ly, the Au­di­tor-Ge­ne­ral to da­te has not que­ried or qua­li­fied Knys­na Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty for the SLA with Knys­na Tou­rism. So why the fuss? Ap­pa­rent­ly, two op­po­sing le­gal o­pi­ni­ons we­re sour­ced by Knys­na Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty re­cent­ly, be­cau­se of the di­vi­si­ons within the lo­cal go­ver­ning par­ty – a­not­her com­mon bad go­ver­nan­ce practi­ce by the lo­cal DA to de­al with op­po­sing views within the par­ty e­ven be­fo­re mat­ters get to coun­cil. A le­gal o­pi­ni­on is w­hat is, an o­pi­ni­on, not law or a court jud­ge­ment.

The po­li­ti­cal in­sta­bi­li­ty has led to in­de­ci­si­ve­ness, un­cer­tain­ty and a mu­ni­ci­pal ad­mi­nis­tra­ti­on not su­re which de­ci­si­ons to exe­cu­te, due to in­ter­fe­ren­ce in the ad­mi­nis­tra­ti­on. For the past fi­ve y­e­ars, ex­pe­rien­ced and com­mit­ted bo­ard mem­bers ha­ve left be­cau­se of the un­cer­tain­ty and dif­fi­cul­ty to do long-term plan­ning. Knys­na de­ser­ves bet­ter.

My ad­vi­ce to Knys­na coun­cil: 1) Ur­gent­ly re­new the con­tract with Knys­na Tou­rism at le­ast for 24 mont­hs with spe­ci­fic key per­for­man­ce in­di­ca­tors and ac­coun­ta­bi­li­ty me­a­su­res. 2) Com­ple­te Secti­on 78 re­port within 12 mont­hs and de­ci­de on me­cha­nism to de­li­ver functi­on. 3) Gi­ve suf­fi­cient no­ti­ce to Knys­na Tou­rism of de­ci­si­on. 4) Las­t­ly, if you are af­raid to go­vern wit­hout le­gal o­pi­ni­ons, at le­ast get a de­cla­ra­to­ry or­der from a high court on the le­ga­li­ty of the fun­ding.

Fi­nal­ly, t­his o­pi­ni­on is not in sup­port of a ne­ver-en­ding, long-term ar­ran­ge­ment with Knys­na Tou­rism. My sup­port for a par­ti­cu­lar me­cha­nism to de­li­ver the tou­rism functi­on is well kno­wn. I will ex­pand on my view in a­not­her com­men­ta­ry.

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