Knysna mayor ousted in 'coup'

Eleanore Bouw-Spies
Eleanore Bouw-Spies
Image: Werner Hills

The mayor of Knysna has been ousted in a vote of no confidence likened to a coup d'état and described as “outrageous” by the DA's Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela.

Eleanore Bouw-Spies was given her marching orders after the motion‚ tabled by the opposition ANC in council‚ which accused her of failing to perform her duties in the coastal town on the Garden Route.

“The only way to describe that – it was a coup. It is outrageous what happened yesterday in Knysna‚” said Madikizela in a Thursday morning interview on Cape Talk radio.

“Without any prior warning from those members of the DA they just decided to side with the opposition and elected themselves as mayor‚” he added.

The DA’s Mark Willemse‚ speaker of the Eden District municipality‚ was voted in as the new executive mayor with Ricky van Aswegen from Cope as his deputy.

Madikizela suggested that Willemse may have “colluded with members of the opposition”. The provincial party leader said he would visit the town on Friday to ascertain what was going on.

Madikizela said they needed to establish the facts of what happened as the two Knysna DA councillors never informed the leadership that they were unhappy with the mayor.

He added the DA would have to reprimand the two councillors somehow as their behaviour had far-reaching consequences.

The news comes as the DA mayor of Matzikama Local Municipality, Rhenda Stephan, resigned yesterday after the DA caucus tabled a motion of no confidence against her.

“The reality was that the [Matzikama] mayor was not optimally fulfilling her role as the mayor in the municipality and thus the caucus said there was a vacuum.

“We also made our own assessment and we came to the same conclusion which was why we granted the permission to the caucus to table a motion of no confidence,” he said.

Last month, Bergrivier mayor Evert Manuel also resigned from his post as mayor, something Madikizela said was done because Manuel violated the constitution.

“The constitution is very clear that if you mobilise members of your own party to join other parties, that is cessation of membership,” he said.

Madikizela said people should appreciate the DA’s decisiveness in dealing with members of the party and added when issues are raised about members of the party, those are dealt with.

“Unlike other parties, you find a situation where there’s indecision or you find people are removed and promoted to other positions. We don’t do that here. We do exactly what our voters elected us to do and that’s how an accountable government acts,” he said.

Meanwhile George mayor, Melvin Naik is expected to make a presentation to the DA’s federal legal commission on Saturday as to why he should not resign and the DA should reinstate his party membership.

The George Herald reported that on Monday Naik received a letter from the DA’s federal legal commission informing him of the cessation of his DA membership.

It was alleged that Naik canvassed members of the DA to join the opposition and support the them in a motion of no confidence against the George council speaker Gerrit Pretorius and deputy mayor Charlotte Clarke.

The Knysna-Plett Herald  reported on Wednesday night that Bouw-Spies was voted out after a tumultuous and chaotic special council meeting at the Knysna Council chambers. The evening ended with the approval of the 2018/19 budget but also with a new mayor.

Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of a series of devastating fires that swept through the town‚ destroying homes and businesses.

This is a developing story