Plett Ratepayers’ Association Wins Court Order

Suspension of Bitou’s Recycling Service
July 25, 2023
Property Valuations And Rates Increase
July 31, 2023

Plett Ratepayers’ Association Wins Court Order

Dear Members,

The Plett Ratepayers’ Association won a court order with costs on Friday, 21 July against Bitou Municipality, giving Bitou two weeks to provide information on political appointees, otherwise they will be held in contempt of court.

Nine months ago we asked for a breakdown of political staff and salary costs hired by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Speaker. Political staff include office managers, political advisors, spiritual advisors (in the case of ex-mayor Lobese), personal communication managers, drivers, bodyguards, and anyone who works exclusively for elected officials.  We asked for a comparison of nine financial years, which spans three political terms, to see if the current costs are in line.  One of the reasons for asking was that, at the time, Bitou was in financial distress and this could have been an area for potential cost reductions.

This is information which DA Leader John Steenhuisen said would be made public after the 2021 municipal elections.  It raises red flags when elected officials refuse to tell us how our money is being spent.

The Ratepayers’ Association regrets having to go through the lengthy PAIA process and unnecessary expense to get basic information we are entitled to. We sincerely hope that going forward our requests will be met with more openness.

Regrettably, the RPA has two more PAIA’s (Promotion of Access to Information Act) in the pipeline:

  1.  a copy of the agreement between Bitou Municipality and A&N Property Developers regarding the controversial erf 1725. We want to understand the specifics regarding the terms of the agreement, its current validity and whether it pertains to all of erf 1725.  We are particularly interested as to whether the price agreed in 2008 is locked in as opposed to current market value which is what the MFMA requires.
  2. a copy of the contract, company records and performance reports on Isolomzi Security Services, to determine why Bitou’s municipal security costs are so much higher than Knysna’s.  The vandalism of municipal assets over the years has cost us millions and we need to get assurance that the R20m+ contract with Isolomzi provides the necessary level of security.

We will keep you informed.

Kind regards,
Steve Pattinson