Response to Allegations by Overstrand Environmental Association regarding Overstrand Municipality

Response to Allegations by Overstrand Environmental Association regarding Overstrand Municipality

Anton Kruger writes the following in his Newsbrief#5 under the auspices of the Overstrand Environmental Association.

We approached various overseeing structures and individuals to see if they could convince the Overstrand Municipality (OM) to join the discussions. What follows transpired over more than a year.

  • Our request for assistance to the Executive Mayor went unanswered, and the Ward 13 councillor also did not respond.
  • Local VF+ councillors did attempt to bring the OM to the table but were unsuccessful.
  • We engaged with the Speaker over a period of more than 3 months, but the matter remained unresolved. It became apparent that a politician lacks the authority to direct a municipal official without Council decree, a step the Speaker did not pursue.
  • Subsequently, we elevated our concerns to various oversight bodies within the Western Cape Government as well as to the highest levels of the DA, including SALGA, the Public Protector, Department of Water and Sanitation, Federal Chair of the DA, Western Cape Premier and the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning. The latter appears to be the highesty (sic) authority in this context.
  • Despite our concerted efforts, we encountered a general reluctance to enforce the Code of Conduct for Municipal staff, as outlined in the Developmental model of the Municipal Systems Act, and the matter was not resolved.

Meanwhile, in the Overstrand, business continues as usual. Excessive water extraction, limited environmental safeguards, hazardous sewage practices and accelerated development persist unchecked.

RESPONSE: Mr Kruger, by his own admission, confirms that the matter of the over-extraction at the De Bos Dam and the perceived uncontrolled development have been reported to abovementioned authorities, political parties, and oversight bodies over a period of time. What he fails to inform the public about, is the fact that all these stakeholders did indeed investigate his allegations and found them to be unfounded.

He also fails to inform his members, and any other person who listens and replies to his verbal diarrhoea, that he also made allegations against the previous municipal manager, which after an investigation that cost the rate payers more than R200 000, were found to be frivolous and unfounded.

He further chooses to keep silent about the fact that he was a mayoral candidate as an independent candidate in the 2021 local elections and only received 60 votes.

It is further fact that municipalities in South Africa are heavily overregulated and the notion of uncontrolled developments and hazardous sewage practices, within this controlled environment and in this province is simply a misnomer.

With regard to his insistence that Overstrand Municipality attends their environmental seminars or at least engage with them, with respect, there have been many engagements which Mr Kruger affirms in his latest post on the Onrus Vermont Public Participation Group. One cannot engage meaningfully with someone who has stubborn preconceptions and seemingly does not have the ability to rationalise and take the opinions and views of other parties into account. Hence, the decision not to participate in any further engagements.

The Municipality has shown since the start of the current administration’s tenure that we are indeed open to engage with everyone, but it cannot continue to engage where there are these consistent requests for dialogue and then the subsequent outcome remains that of dissent and disrespect from Mr Kruger and his associates.

Hence, the last advice to him was that he should approach a competent court or gather the proper evidence and make a formal complaint to the relevant environmental authorities. It does not help to measure volumes with a stopwatch, bucket and a scale and then present this as credible evidence. However, it seems that unfounded allegations and popular rhetoric without substance fits his narrative of showing that the Council is unfit to govern, which is indeed untrue.

In conclusion, there seems to be an unhealthy and possibly politically driven narrative against the Overstrand Mayor and her team which most probably explains the irrationality of some of the arguments. It is however unfortunate that the public debate on environmental issues in this specific case is clouded by the interest of quasi politicians who miserably failed at the ballot box.

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