Thursday, 30 June 2011

The ongoing tragedy of Dolphin Beach

I like to swim in the sea on Dolphin Beach everyday, weather permitting.  For me, it is one of the major perks of staying in this pretty coastal town. This beach is the foundation of the tourist trade in Jeffreys Bay.  It alone is the reason why thousands of holidaymakers visit us each year, and why they don’t visit Gamtoos Mouth, or Humansdorp, or Hankey in the same numbers. Together with the perfect break at Supertubes, the pristine sand and beautiful waves at main beach are our single greatest asset, and yet our civic leaders are allowing this resource to rot before our eyes.

The beach is filthy. Broken glass and plastic bags litter the beach. Although there are always council staff lounging around, no one is cleaning the beach. Visitors must carefully pick their way through the infested sand, over the collapsed concrete paving, past the disconnected showers, around the pools of waste water.  Stupidly placed waste water outlets gouge holes in the sand every time it rains, right under the main steps down onto the beach.  Failed pumps allow great dams of raw sewage to pollute the beach near the Ski boat club.  Our premier asset has to be closed to avoid poisoning our visitors and ourselves. Should we be surprised if these visitors never return?

Our beautiful beach, widely acknowledged as one of the best in the country, has lost its blue flag status. How many overseas visitors, surfing the internet for blue flag beaches to visit, never discover Jeffreys Bay because it isn’t there on the list. What is the cost to our economy of the visitors who never came? How many more became unemployed because there were no visitors to service?   Is the council doing all it can to recover our blue flag status? Is it cleaning up the beach after every minor storm? Is it repairing the damage done by its own badly situated stormwater drains? Is it containing the sewage leaks, repairing the infrastructure, investing in our single greatest asset? Or is it refurbishing the mayor’s office?

The following information is extracted from a letter from WESSA (the blue flag coordinator) to the Kouga Municipality (KM):
·         The South African National Blue Flag jury meets on 1st July 2012.
·         WESSA would probably conduct a completion inspection by 1 September 2011.  
·         By this time KM must have replaced the two inadequate pumps with two larger capacity pumps to handle the December and Easter peak sewage flow.
·         Full blue flag status will not be awarded if the new pumps have not been replaced and are not fully operational by 1 October 2011. 
·         WESSA would probably adopt the same measure as in this past season in that any Blue Flag status shall be immediately withdrawn for the rest of the season if a sewage spill occurs during the season.  This would be for any reason besides factors beyond municipal control, such as lengthy regional power-outage.
·         If the pumps cannot be replaced by October 2011, Kouga Municipality is advised that the SA National Blue Flag Jury would probably not be in favour of granting pilot status, due to risks of further sewage spills and negative publicity to the Blue Flag programme and to the Kouga Municipality.

In summary – Jeffreys Bay has until 1 September 2011 to get its act together, to install adequate pumps to control sewage flow, to tidy up main beach, and to attempt to regain our coveted Blue Flag Status. Failure to do so will be disastrous.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Cash Flow crisis in J’Bay Municipality

A major cash flow crisis exists in the Kouga Municipality (which includes Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay and Humansdorp).
The proposed budget for the next three years includes the sale of municipal land up to R 80 million; much of which will be used to cover the operating budget.

Read the rest of this article at J Bay News

I recommend that you subscribe to JBayNews, to keep current with daily events in the town.

JBRA General Meeting Progress Report - 15th June 2011

When I became chairman of JBRA in February 2011, I set 3 major objectives. These were
  • To improve the membership of the residents association
  • To increase our interaction with and impact on the Kouga Municipality
  • If time permits, to improve our relationship with other residents associations and FEKRRA
 Residents Association

We now have 940 names in our database, close to our target of 1000 by July. Of this 940, 270 have signed up as non-voting members for free, and 120 as voting members for R40 each, a total of just on 400 registered members. We have sent out 3 membership emails, run 2 recruitment mornings at Equinox Mall and Spar, and signed up numerous friends and relatives.  Nevertheless, fewer than one in 20 J Bay residents has joined the association, even though they can do so for free. There is simply no point in having a residents association if the residents don’t join it or support it.

Membership forms can be obtained from the BP garage, and the J Bay library, or the website. You can apply for membership online, or completed forms can be handed in at the library, posted, emailed or faxed.

Since February we have setup a big website at Amongst many other things, you can view the latest association news, see a list of all the issues under discussion with the council, get the contact  details of every newly elected councillor in Kouga, and use an interactive map of J Bay to find any street address. So far we have had about 330 unique visitors to the website.

Activity on our blog has been quiet, with about 760 pageviews since February. Only 11 people have subscribed to receive updates, and almost no one has added an article or a comment. Please, please – talk to us, even if just to complain. Otherwise it feels as though we are shouting down an empty hole.

We have had many articles and references published in the local press, almost every week.  Our secretary maintains a very impressive cuttings file, which you are welcome to inspect.

Committee membership has been quite dynamic, with a number of members finding the workload too challenging. In some cases, the committee members could not find the workload at all.  We have now stabilised at 5 hardworking members, to whom my most grateful thanks. If you are interested in joining the committee, if you are connected to the internet, and if you have the time and energy to spare, please contact us soon.

Kouga Municipality

A recent Business Day article by Rene Voolgraff rated KM as the second worst municipality in the country. This is shocking but not surprising. Our local municipality is plagued with financial irregularities, excessive salary bills, severe cash flow problems, and a failing infrastructure.  In the recent past we have had the damning Auditor General report, the suspension of the CFO, major cash flow problems with Eskom payments, and the closure of Dolphin Beach for a week. Our local economy is collapsing, shops are closing, unemployment is growing. We already have an unofficial rates boycott, with only 46% or rates and services being paid. These are serious times, requiring serious solutions.

The JBRA has had 3 meetings with the KM staff. These meetings are taken seriously by the MM, heads of departments have attended regularly, strict minutes are kept. Nevertheless, many commitments to provide information and reports, to attend meetings, to respond to complaints are just simply not honoured.  Just this week 2 meetings with senior council staff, Eksteen de Lange and Elvis Olivier, were simply ignored – no apology, no warning, no show.   The MM refused to attend this meeting or send representatives. No meeting of the crucial Finance Oversight Committee has been held since March.  We have received no response to our enquiries concerning membership of the Audit Committee.  Unless the KM response improves soon, the relationship between the residents association and the council will be in danger of failing.

There have been some small successes. The problems at the J Bay caravan park are receiving attention. The Newton Hall has been approved for use by sports codes. Construction of a new sewerage plant has been approved. Overall, if this were a school exam, I would give the KM a mark of 39 out of a 100 – failing but trying, can definitely do better.  The biggest problems remain financial which my colleague Dr Gustav Barnard will address shortly.

Some problems which have a big impact on the appearance of our town are actually quite simple to solve. The appearance of our beaches, the cleanliness of our streets, the state of street names, these don’t take rocket science to get right. Any motivated supervisor with a few workers would have these problems licked in a week.  The fact that the council can’t get something this simple sorted out is simply tragic.

How do we address these issues? One idea is to get residents more involved in some municipal activities which directly affect them, through what we are calling Resident Projects.  A group of residents get together to accomplish one specific task. It may be keeping the local beach tidy. It may be refurbishing the street signs in Central J Bay. Like a blockwatch, the tasks are divided up amongst the group, workers and funds are allocated, and the job is done.  With luck the council will support this idea, allocate some funds, and not put meaningless obstacles in the way. But even if we have to do do it alone, as concerned and active residents, it is better than just watching our town fade away for lack of a little attention. If you approve of this idea, if you are willing to get involved in even a small way, please write your name and contact number on one of the Resident Project posters around the hall.

Gustav will talk about the particularly important Legal Watchdog Resident Project we hope to start as soon as possible.

FEKRRA and other residents associations

The Federation of Kouga Residents and Ratepayers Associations has been very quiet this year due to the ill health of its chairman and driving force, Joe Oosthuizen.  We have representatives of both the St Francis Ratepayers association and the Paradise Beach Ratepayers Association with us here today. Hopefully we can get together after this meeting and plot a way forward for FEKRRA.

That is an overview of the past 3 months or so of the JBRA.  Dr Gustav Barnard will now talk on some of the financial aspects of the KM, and our ideas for a legal watchdog group.

After Gustav, Dries Du Preez of Fountains Estate will bring us up to date on circumstances surrounding the new low cost housing development planned for Ocean View.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

SA municipalities: Mess, royal mess and a gigantic mess

There is no way to break it to them gently where the state of our municipal budgets are concerned. The time for a no-holds-barred overhaul is right now. Are you listening, Mr President – it is time for tough love.  By PAUL BERKOWITZ.

Read the full article at The Daily Maverick

Residential property hasn’t found a bottom yet

By Stander, on June 15th, 2011. (Copied from the website)

FNB just released its “Property Barometer.” It shows that the bust continues to play out in the highly levered sector. This sector lives on credit growth. Ask yourself, what would you be able to pay for a house if you couldn’t get a mortgage loan?  That’s right, the amount you could spend on a house is about the same you could put down as a deposit for a mortgage loan, absent willing lenders. That’s not much (sorry for being a bit presumptious and brash, but there aren’t many people that can pay cash for a residential home today.)  If mortgage lending doesn’t pick up very substantially very soon, the local residential real estate market may drop off the edge of a cliff.
Also note that FNB says that
“Examining estate agents’ near term expectations, and the influencing factors for their expectations, it is evident that they are implicitly citing financial pressure on households as well as a lack of further interest rate cutting in 2011, as key influences…
Whereas in the 1st quarter survey interest rates were cited as the key (positive) influence on expectations, the 2nd quarter survey saw interest rates fall back sharply into 4th place in terms of their importance as an influence on perceptions. Most prominent in the latest survey was “Economic/Financial Stress and General Pessimism” as a driver of near term expectations…
Coupled to the above, regarding economic/financial stress, agents believe that there has been a rise in the significance of selling “in order to downscale due to financial pressure”, from 22% of the total number of sellers in the 1st quarter to 25% in the 2nd quarter. This reason for selling must be seen as providing strong support for supply of property on the market. Some would argue that a sale in order to downscale due to financial pressure should be followed by a purchase of a cheaper property shortly thereafter, negating the boost to supply of property after the initial sale. However, agents believe that around half (51%) of sellers selling for financial stress-related reasons actually exit the market and move into property rental for the time being, thus leaving something of a gap.”
Household finances are under pressure, and will remain so for a while.  The lack of levered buyers means credit extension will remain anaemic.  This means there will be little money supply growth, which means CPI inflation isn’t going where mainstream economists say it will (above 6% in 2012), and if anything may go lower. It means we will still see interest rate cuts from the SARB later this year and possibly even into 2012.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Volgende is `n baie handige dokument om van kennis te dra en om `n munisipaliteit en sy amptenary te monitor of daar aan alle wetlike aspekte voldoen word.
Kyk gerus daarna.


The document above is a handy overview of the law and circumstances around the municipality and its members.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

The party (politics) is over, the hangover is next.

By Trevor Watkins, Chairman Jeffreys Bay Residents Association.

In the recent Municipal elections in Kouga the ANC squeaked in with a 1 seat majority over the DA. The  ANC leaders and councillors have ignored the fundamental concepts of democracy. They have effectively disenfranchised close to half the voters in Kouga by selecting a mayoral committee only from their own ranks. Using their paper thin majority, they did not offer a single seat on this all powerful body to the DA.  This is majority politics at its crudest, with no sign of the compromise and reconciliation for which South Africa was once famous.  When the tables turn, as they always do, how loud will be the squeals from the ANC opposition if they are excluded from all positions of influence by a DA majority? 

An ANC council must now address and resolve the many problems bequeathed to it by the previous ANC administration. At least there is some justice in this. Kouga residents voted for change in this election, not more of the same. This new council would be foolish to ignore this message.

Kouga ratepayers now have the pleasure of paying for 29 councillors where previously they had only to pay for 15. At a bare minimum of R15,000 per councillor per month, the bill for their collective wisdom comes to R435,000 per month, more than R20,000 per working day, or close to R1,000 per hour. In reality, most councillors will cost Kouga double this amount. Are we getting value for money?  Do these 29 people add more than R20,000 worth of value to Kouga every single working day, as they would be expected to do in any kind of commercial business?

The 14 DA councillors are effectively dead ducks on the council. They can change virtually nothing. From the ANC’s perspective, they are useful figureheads – providing the appearance of democracy, while being largely ignored.  They would have a far greater impact on the ANC and the future of the Kouga if they resigned en masse, thus triggering a constitutional crisis which might ultimately lead to a new election. But don’t hold your breath, those opposition benches are really quite well-paid and comfortable.

Eight of the 15 ANC councillors are just there to make up the numbers. They will never vote against the decisions handed down by the mayor and the mayoral committee. They will never speak against them in public. At council meetings you could put cardboard dummies in their place, with a string connected to their voting arms, and no one would notice. Finally, Kouga is run by 7 people – the mayor and the mayoral committee. So much for representative democracy.

What can we, the residents and voters of Kouga do to ensure we get our money’s worth from our honourable councillors?  We can start by insisting that the councillors do the job for which they are paid.  We can ask them difficult questions. We can monitor their performance, in their wards and on the council. We can call them with our problems. We can demand to see them in public more often, at meetings, in the press, on the streets of their ward. In fact, as residents, we are entitled to make their lives such a misery that they wonder why they ever became councillors.  For your convenience, a list of the name and contact details of all the Kouga councillors appears on the J Bay Residents association website at

I have prepared a list of questions which every councillor should be prepared to answer. All answers received will be published on the Jbayra blog, or in the local press if they are interested.

Councillor’s Answer
  1. Name

  1. Ward number

  1. Political Party

  1. What is the balance of your rates and utilities account as at 1st June 2011?

  1. Do you own a copy of the Municipal Systems Act? 
    Have you read it?
    Can you answer questions on it?

  1. Do you own a copy of the Kouga 2011/12 Integrated Development Plan (IDP) at this moment?
    Have you made any written, public comments on the IDP?

  1. Do you own a copy of the Kouga 2011/12 budget at this moment?
    Have you made any written, public comments on the budget?

  1. Do you own a copy of the South African Constitution?
    Have you read it?
    Can you answer questions on it?

  1. Have you ever attended a finance oversight committee meeting?
    Have you ever attended a Performance Review meeting?
    Have you ever attended a ward committee meeting?

  1. When last did you organise a public meeting in your ward, outside of election time?

  1. When last did you have anything published in a public forum, such as a newspaper?
    On what topic?

  1. What are the top 5 issues for residents in your ward?

    How do you know?