Update to members

Dear Members,

An update on our activities follows:

Airport.  On 7 August, Bitou issued the bidding document for the “attainment of the Airport Business and long term lease of the Plettenberg Bay Airport.”  The closing date is 20 September, 2023.  We are pleased that this process is finally underway and are hopeful of a successful bidder who will be committed to investing in both commercial and general aviation in Plettenberg Bay.  Meanwhile, the local private pilots and hangar owners have formed a flying club and have taken over the maintenance of the general aviation area at their own cost and have repaired roads, fixed the security gate and are cutting the grass regularly.

PAIAs.  Due to a lack of responsiveness from Bitou Municipality, the Ratepayers have stepped up their applications for information through PAIAs (Promotion of Access to Information Act).  We first ask questions in a letter or two to the mayor and municipal manager to clarify what is going on and ask for an explanation.  Inevitably that doesn’t work so we are faced with following the formal legal approach as required by PAIA.  It is our role as the Ratepayers’ Association to determine the real and honest facts when something doesn’t look right, and then call for a correction to ensure good governance.  We cannot take part in participative governance unless we have the full information and this appears to be the only way to get it.

Our PAIAs in the pipeline include:

– Disciplinary Hearings — why has Bitou’s Building Project Manager not been charged after over two years on suspension at full pay, and what have delays in holding disciplinary hearings cost the ratepayers?

– Agreements for erven 1725 and 256 — there are still many unanswered questions about the agreements involving the disposal of municipal public open spaces along Longships.  We want to determine how the agreements from 2008 were done and the specific terms and conditions of the agreements.

– Isolomzi Security — we have asked questions to ensure our municipal infrastructure is being properly protected; what is the service level agreement in light of all the vandalism and theft of municipal infrastructure; and has it been properly monitored and complied with. Importantly, we need to ensure we are getting value for money.

Our next PAIAs will include, if no answers are provided shortly:

– Refuse removal and Recycling.  We have been asking for years for: zero-based budgeting to see what the actual cost of delivering the service is and why Bitou’s cost is so much higher than other towns; for a breakdown of how the budget is spent to justify a 17.2% tariff increase; allegedly 8% of that increase is going to a provision for a future landfill rehabilitation, so we want to know where the money will be held in reserve and why other towns who share the same landfill have not made such a provision.   We also want to know why the recycling tender was not done timeously to avoid these five months of no recycling service, yet we are still paying for it.

– Youth Day and Women’s Day celebrations.  Was spending almost R1 million on these events the best use of public funds?  Bitou’s own Cost Containment policy does not allow such events and catering.  Was the expenditure budgeted or unauthorized?  Would a women’s shelter not have been of more lasting value, or school supplies for the youth?

We will continue to provide positive input to the municipality, such as our service delivery reports and budget oversight reports, but will also continue to question them when something doesn’t look right, and keep you informed.

Kind regards,
Steve Pattinson