Committee Report deliberations: Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Petition on training flight school; Love Knysna Petition on alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities at Knysna Local Municipality)

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

06 April 2016
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC, Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to deliberate upon two petitions, but deferred the adoption to the next meeting. It firstly deliberated on the report on the Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Petition on the alleged unlawful and unregulated establishment of private commercial flights training school operations within Oudtshoorn Local municipality). Submissions had been made on the economic benefits of the airport and flying school to the community of Oudtshoorn, and submissions were made by Mr Chetty on the tourism, agriculture and agricultural processes which were also important for the economy of Oudtshoorn. The Committee agreed that the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality had complied with the public participation process and the environmental assessment. However, it would like to recommend that it should convene a meeting to give feedback to the broader community. The Committee Members present agreed with the eight observations and findings in the Report, but deferred the final adoption of this to 13 April 2016 to allow for any inputs by other Members.

The Committee then deliberated on the Love Knysna Petition on the alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities taking place at Knysna Local Municipality. One Member felt that the Report was not yet complete and pointed out that the submissions from the petitioner were reflected in one draft, but those from the municipality in another and these would need to be combined. Furthermore, Members agreed that the reports from the Public Protector, Provincial Treasury, and the final outcome of the dispute process that was ongoing between the municipality and the petitioner still needed to be forwarded to the Committee. The Executive Mayor must still also furnish the written apology that was to be printed in the media. For all of these reasons, the petition was not ready for final consideration. The Members commented that when the Speaker accepted any petitions, it should be established whether all internal and alternative remedies had been exhausted. The Committee would re-draft the Report, incorporating all submissions, and noting that in the absence of all information it would not be in a position to finalise the matter, and convey that also to the petitioner.

The Committee deferred the adoption of the Committee Programme to its next meeting.

Meeting report

Adoption Committee Reports: Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Petition on training flight school; Love Knysna Petition on alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities at Knysna Local Municipality)
The Chairperson summarised the two Committee draft Reports (the Reports) that were presented for adoption at this meeting, on the two petitions recently discussed by the Committee. The Oudtshoorn Ratepayers Report Association Petition was concerned with the alleged unlawful and unregulated establishment of private commercial flights training school operations within Oudtshoorn local municipality. The Love Knysna Petition addressed the alleged maladministration, fraud and financial irregularities taking place at Knysna Local Municipality.

Draft Report on the Oudtshoorn Ratepayers  Association Petition, dated 16 March 2016
Ms B Engelbrecht (Gauteng, DA) asked whether the Committee had received any summary report from the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality which indicated the economic benefits of the airport to the local community of Knysna.

Mr M Mohapi (Free State, ANC) noted that Mr Chetty, as outlined on page 8 of the draft report, had given a submission in which he informed the Committee that “the airport is good for the economy of Oudtshoorn which is largely dependent on tourism, agriculture and agricultural processing”. He further informed the Committee that the municipality is comprised of 18 0000 households and 700 of these households are indigent. He said that the airport did not just create 400 jobs but also generated business revenue for small communities. He also pointed out that South African National Defence Force (SANDF) made extensive use of the airport as a “base”. Whatever Mr Chetty had said should, however, be presented in writing.

Ms G Manopole (Northern Cape, ANC) said that page 9 of the draft report also noted that the Oudtshoorn Chamber of Business was in support of the airport operation.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee would need to address the recommendations. He asked if Members were satisfied, now that the municipality had complied with the public participation process and environmental assessment, on the compliance aspects.

Mr Mohapi said that he felt that the recommendations and Chairperson's input were sufficient to resolve on the matter.

Ms Manopole proposed that the draft recommendations should be forwarded to all Members so that they could give further input and make amendments if necessary. She did not think it would be possible to conclude all the recommendations in this meeting, although she thought any Members who had recommendations to make should do so now. She pointed out that public participation is a broad process which required oral and written submissions. She proposed that the Committee should recommend to the Oudtshoorn Local Municipality that it should hold feedback meetings with the petitioners and broader community, instead of public participation hearings, to inform them of the socio-economic benefits of the airport and flying school being based there.

Mr Mohapi suggested that this could be one of the concluding resolutions – that the municipality should draw up a report feeding back on the outcome of the process, but if this was done, it should be made clear that the purpose of this was part of the public participation process, and not a way to reopen this matter again. The report was concluded and it would be far too time-consuming for Members to have to go back into it again. The matter had, as far as he was concerned, been exhausted, and he was satisfied that there had been compliance on the process.

The Chairperson said that this recommendation should go to the municipality, for it to establish a forum.

Mr Mohapi said it would be the kind of forum used for integrated development planning, to allow feedback.

Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) said that such forums did already exist. However, he cautioned that National Government should be cautious of attempting to dictate to local government, as this would set a dangerous precedent if it was to start dabbling in each other's territory.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should rather say there should be engagements and feedbacks in terms of the process. The Committee agreed in principle to be guided by the eight observations and findings as set out in this report.

Draft Committee Report on Love Knysna Petition, dated 10 February 2016
Mr Michalakis said that he had gone through the draft Report but said that some of the observations and findings from both the first and second draft needed to be addressed. Mr Michalakis suggested that paragraphs 9.2, 9.3, 9.4 and 9.5, which dealt with the ISDF tender, should be consolidated into fewer points as he found the current reading cumbersome. The report on 16 March 2016 had recommendations around the submissions by the municipality and so forth, but none dealing with Knysna Tourism, so the ISDF tender was not reflected in the municipality's inputs.

Ms Manopole asked Mr Michalakis where those were.

Mr Michalakis said that bullet points 9.2 to 9.5 of the Report were submissions made by the petitioner. The first report had set those out. However, more submissions were contained in the second report from the municipality, which had responded to the ISDF tender, in paragraph 5.1.2. It had said that the Public Protector contacted the Provincial Treasury in an attempt to determine if there should be an investigation into the awarding of the ISDF tender. He suggested that this point must be incorporated.

In summary, he felt that the Report of the Committee had to reflect, in the findings and observations, the submissions by the petitioner and municipality, to get both sides of the story stated. He suggested this could be done either by incorporating the municipality submissions into the first report or making fuller recommendations in the second report.

Mr Mohapi said that he was not sure that the Committee had made a determination yet. This had been a particularly complex process. He reminded Members that when engaging with Provincial Treasury, the Committee had not got any indication that the matter had been finalised on the side of Provincial Treasury. Furthermore, there was also an allegation in the submissions about the matter being referred to the Public Protector who had not made any finding or determination. He believed that the Committee, in order to do full justice to the matter, had to ensure that all relevant stakeholders were addressing the issues. He also thought it would be fair to allow the municipality to conclude its own internal processes, after which the Committee would be able to make a finding. He reiterated that the Committee should not rush to make a decision but rather refer this back to the stakeholders, including the Public Protector and Provincial Treasury for input on whether they had acted on submissions.

Mr Nkanyiso Mkhize, Committee Secretary, answered the Chairperson's questions and said that so far nothing had been received from the Public Protector.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee did want to give the Public Protector space to make a finding in the matter, and pointed out also that the .Provincial Treasury and the municipality had not finalised the dispute between the two parties, in order to table this to the Committee.

Ms Manopole also felt that the findings and observations were badly drafted and needed to be put in a better context or reworked.

The Chairperson said that this could be improved as the Committee realigned the two reports.

Mr Michalakis said he agreed with the suggestion by Mr Mohapi. One of the questions that should be asked, by the Secretary of the NCOP, when a petition was submitted, was whether the petitioner had exhausted all other options. Here, where there were other processes still happening, the Committee could not do justice to the matters or deal with them. He suggested that this report should be deferred until all other processes were completed, and the petitioner should be informed of that.

Mr Michalakis also said that in the final observations and findings, the Committee must deal only with the core issues, and not touch upon anything irrelevant in the recommendations, avoiding also any mention of mere allegations that were not founded. Only the facts should be reflected in the recommendations, although the allegations could be mentioned under the “Submissions” section of the Report only. He furthermore pointed out that bullet point 9.7 was irrelevant to the core issues that were raised by the petitioner, and this must either be removed, or this point must speak to the views of all the people who had been consulted by the petitioner.

The Chairperson noted that the observations should include  mention of the fact that the internal processes were not yet concluded. This should be captured in the draft Report now, to enable a full capture of all considerations in the final Report.

Mr D Ximbi (Western Cape, ANC) agreed with the proposal that the Committee should not rush to finalise the report. The Committee was also still waiting for the Executive Mayor of Knysna to submit a copy of the advertisement for the position of Municipal Manager, to check what requirements had been stated. There was much more work needing to be done by the Committee before coming to a final conclusion.

The Chairperson emphasised that the same was true of the apology in the media, by the Executive Mayor; the Committee was still waiting for that. He summarised that the Committee agreed to wait for all other processes to be concluded. All the inputs could in the meantime be captured in the observations sections so that later on, they could be translated into recommendations.

Committee Programme: Consideration and Adoption
Mr Michalakis proposed that the final decision on the Oudtshoorn Petition report should be included in the programme, for adoption on 13 April 2016. That would leave the Knysna Petition report outstanding.

The Chairperson noted that due to time constraints, the adoption of the programme would be deferred to the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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