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MUNICIPAL POLITICS

Knysna’s governing coalition on shaky ground after defection of Garden Route councillor

Knysna’s governing coalition on shaky ground after defection of Garden Route councillor
Patriot Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie (left) welcomes John Patrick (centre) to the party on 17 December 2023. The PA is hard at work campaigning in George ahead of a by-election on 14 February 2024. (Photo: Facebook)

Fresh from its water crisis, Knysna Municipality could face more political instability as the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners party has threatened to pull out of the governing coalition after one of its councillors in George joined the Patriotic Alliance.

The Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) has said it will consider withdrawing from the governing coalition in the Knysna Municipality after a PBI councillor in George Municipality resigned and joined the Patriotic Alliance (PA).

The Patriotic Alliance, PBI and ANC form the governing coalition in Knysna, which is in the throes of a severe water crisis caused by power cuts and the mismanagement of water infrastructure.

If the coalition breaks between the two parties, it could cause more instability. The PBI/PA/ANC coalition has 10 seats, while the Democratic Alliance and Knysna Independent Movement also have 10 seats. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has one seat, which often controls how the coastal municipality is governed. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Knysna’s water and sanitation problems fuel constant political blame game in coalition government

The PBI’s Alberto Marbi is the deputy mayor of Knysna, while the Patriotic Alliance has two councillors on the mayoral committee. 

“The PBI is currently considering breaking ties with the Patriotic Alliance in the Knysna municipality. We cannot work with people that want to destroy our people,” the Southern Cape-based party said on 17 December. 

knysna coalition defection

Leader Gayton McKenzie with Patriotic Alliance members in George on 17 December 2023. The PA is hard at work campaigning in the area ahead of a by-election on 14 February 2024. (Photo: Facebook)

This followed the resignation of John Patrick Buys, a PBI councillor who up until his resignation was his party’s representative in the Garden Route District Municipality. In a Facebook post on 17 December after Buys joined the Patriotic Alliance, party president Gayton Mckenzie said Buys brought along “his whole canvassing team” to the party.

“I wanna welcome him and thank the PA members who recruited him. We are intentional as the PA with the taking over of George Municipality before the 2024 election with suitable coalition partners who will not treat our people like animals,” Mckenzie said. 

When asked about the PBI’s comments, Patriotic Alliance spokesperson Steve Motale told Daily Maverick on Tuesday: “There is no party that can refuse a ‘yster’ like Patrick Buys. We were more than elated when he told us that he wants to join the PA. He is a man for the people and very hardworking.” 

About the potential withdrawal of the PBI from the coalition, Motale said: “The PA is not power hungry; let PBI withdraw, every party should do that which is best for the party.”

The Patriotic Alliance is actively campaigning in George ahead of a by-election in Ward 8, scheduled for 14 February 2024. The ward’s councillor, Bazil Petrus, resigned from the Democratic Alliance and joined the Patriotic Alliance, which caused the upcoming by-election. 

In July 2023, the Patriotic Alliance won its first ward seat in George after Christo Alexander won a hotly contested by-election fraught with allegations of voting irregularities. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC weathers Mangaung challenge, PA makes inroads in George as IFP exerts dominance in KZN wards

PBI talks tough on Buys and Patriotic Alliance  

In its statement, the PBI said it took “note” of Buys’ resignation and, “There are claims that Buys left the PBI because he refused to join the EFF.”  

The party has joined ranks with the EFF, with its former president Virgill Gericke resigning from the party and becoming an EFF MP in October alongside axed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Could Virgill Gericke be the EFF’s secret weapon in the Western Cape?

The PBI added: “The whole truth is that nobody was forced to follow the previous leader of the PBI [Gericke] to the EFF. It’s been said several times that councillors must complete their terms within the PBI and be of service to their community.”

The PBI said there was an investigation and hearing against Buys because he had behaved in a manner that was “disrespectful and arrogant against party leaders”. The party also claimed that while Buys had served as a councillor for seven years, he spoke in council only four times. 

“His move to the PA is a gimmick,” said the PBI. “He let the people who voted for him down. The voters voted for the PBI and not the PA.

“The people of George must also be assured that the PBI won’t give support to the PA to destroy George. They can go ahead to buy councillors, but the PBI won’t give its support in the current circumstances.”  

The Patriotic Alliance’s Motale told Daily Maverick: “We have noted the personal attacks on our president. We are over the politics of insult and have nothing bad to say about PBI or its leader. We are eagerly awaiting their withdrawal from Knysna.” DM

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  • Martin Neethling says:

    It is here at this level that the most disgraceful of our current politician cohort reside. The fickleness, the brown envelope diplomacy, the describing of one politician as an ‘yster’ – it’s immature, petty and ugly. If Patrick Buys is so hardworking then perhaps he should turn his efforts to removing the trash. It’s disgraceful that politicians like this treat the municipality as a competition, like a reality show, to see who can outmanoeuvre the other. Knysna has gone through so much in recent years – the devastating fire, the covid lockdown that petty mean-spirited SANPARKS officials interpreted to mean ‘shut the lagoon’.. and along the way tentative steps forward under DA coalitions, and hasty undoing when the tide turns and these pathetic parties along with the inevitable EFF stooge and a PA flipflopper decide they want a bite. Knysna is ripe for a full ratepayer boycott until some grownups are in charge.

    • Michael Thomlinson says:

      The DA needs to stand up and do the job along with the ratepayers ( I don’t think the PA or EFF represent any rate payers). More work on the campaining side: Get 51% and there is no need for any coalitions.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Calling this trough jostling stuff politics seems generous.

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