The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper


Troubled Waters: Knysna Municipality Faces Governance and Service Delivery Crisis

Michael Hawthorne

In a media statement released today, Western Cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, highlighted the extensive service delivery challenges facing Knysna Municipality. The statement detailed the efforts of the Western Cape Government (WCG) to address the municipality’s governance, financial, and service delivery woes that have persisted throughout most of 2023.

Minister Bredell expressed concern over Knysna’s decline in service delivery, particularly evident during the summer holiday period when the picturesque holiday destination grappled with water, sewage, and waste removal challenges. “Knysna Municipality is a cautionary tale of service delivery decline,” stated Minister Bredell.

The Minister presented a comprehensive document to the provincial cabinet, outlining the myriad challenges faced by the municipality, ranging from governance issues to financial setbacks. Notably, several senior appointments within the municipality were found to lack the required work experience or qualifications as mandated by legislation. Additionally, the municipal council’s creation of unlawful political positions led to court intervention.

During the holiday period, Knysna experienced sewage spillages, water supply disruptions, and waste removal interruptions. In response, Minister Bredell revealed that the WCG coordinated with adjacent municipalities to provide water tankers and refuse removal trucks. The government also aided in cleaning and refreshing parts of Knysna’s drinking water reticulation system following the discovery of a corpse in a water reservoir.

To address the ongoing challenges, Minister Bredell indicated potential funding reallocations for essential infrastructure, such as an additional water reservoir. The WCG aims to recommission old water pipelines while designing a more sustainable system for the town’s long-term growth and water security.

The environmental impact of regular sewage spills is also a priority, with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning collaborating closely with the municipality on remediation efforts.

Financially, Knysna Municipality regressed to a qualified audit outcome for the 2022/23 financial year, marking a departure from the unqualified audits achieved in the preceding four years. Minister Bredell assured continued support and financial advice from the WCG, expressing hope that Knysna would seriously consider this assistance.

Minister Bredell emphasized the completion of a draft diagnostic assessment report, which, if approved by the Knysna Council, will serve as the foundation for a support plan that the municipality must implement with WCG’s assistance. Despite the challenges, Minister Bredell remained optimistic about the potential for positive change, acknowledging the need for a collaborative effort involving all stakeholders.


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