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MUNICIPAL DYSFUNCTION

Western Cape’s Kannaland leaders summoned to Parliament after virtual meeting no-show

Western Cape’s Kannaland leaders summoned to Parliament after virtual meeting no-show
Kannaland Mayor Jeffrey Donson. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Political leaders from the Kannaland Municipality, known for its poor financial standing, debt and controversial mayor Jeffrey Donson, will have to appear in person in Parliament after they failed to appear before a committee at a virtual meeting.

Tuesday’s meeting of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) oversight committee in Parliament had to be adjourned after attempts to have Kannaland Municipality’s political leaders answer questions about governance and service delivery failed. 

They will now have to appear in person before Parliament to account for the challenges in the municipality. Cogta committee chairperson Fikile Xasa said the absence of the leaders at a virtual meeting on Tuesday, “shows we are dealing with a municipality that has no leadership. You are not a municipality if you have no leadership.”   

kannaland ladismith

The Old Dutch Reformed Church in Ladismith. February 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

The municipality was due to brief the committee on a follow-up meeting to an oversight visit the committee conducted in 2023.  

Among the issues to be discussed were recommendations on salary scales in the municipality, copies of project plans — including one of the Ladismith Sports Facility — interventions against the municipality and litigation costs incurred due to political infighting among councillors.

The municipality, in the Little Karoo of the Western Cape, received the worst outcome of all the province’s municipalities in the Auditor-General’s 2021/2022 local government audit. The municipality received a disclaimer audit opinion.

The municipality has significant debts to Eskom and the AG’s office. It was approved for a debt relief plan with the National Treasury and, according to Cogta, is meeting the prescribed terms and conditions.

Mayor Jeffrey Donson from the Independent Civic Organisation (Icosa) made headlines in 2021 after he was re-elected despite his conviction for the rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The rape occurred in 2004 when Donson was involved in a disco which young people from Ladismith and Calitzdorp attended. 

kannaland parliament ladismith

Electricity in Ladismith was cut off for more than a week after storm damage to Eskom infrastructure in February 2024. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

This was not the first time Kannaland appeared before the committee. In November 2022, issues of service delivery and administration instability were raised. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Kannaland’s potholed municipal governance, row over Keith Jordaan appointment play out in Parliament

At the start of Tuesday’s virtual meeting, acting Kannaland municipal manager Dillo Sereo told the committee he could not detect Donson at the meeting.

Sereo later told the committee that Donson could not connect to the meeting from his office and would join it soon. However, when Donson did connect, he was inaudible.

Other leaders, including speaker Peter-George Rooi (Karoo Independent Party) and deputy mayor Werner Meshoa (Icosa), were not present.

Xasa and the other committee members agreed that since none of the municipality’s political leaders was available to account to Parliament, “We are wasting our time.”

The provincial treasury’s head of local government public finance, Steve Kenyon, told the committee that the municipality’s late submission of its financial statements to the AG was “already a sign” that the audit opinion would not be good.

Daily Maverick reported in December that Kannaland’s submissions to the AG were almost two months late. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape municipal audit reports hampered by Swellendam protests, Kannaland tardiness, Laingsburg misstatements

During question time, committee member Virgill Gericke (Economic Freedom Fighters) said it was a “grim picture” that the municipality had not complied with requests for information.

In February, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said he would call for an investigation into dysfunctional municipalities, which included Kannaland. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Michael Ash says:

    You will see the same story at Thewaterskloof municipality in due course as its leadership, dysfunctional and inept slides into financial chaos and corruption.

  • Random Comment says:

    “…after he was re-elected despite his conviction for the rape of a 15-year-old girl”

    I give up.

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