Dear Reader: Winning at any cost

The DA may be keen to present a different image from that of the ANC, but there are a couple of places where the two look much the same. The Overberg in the Western Cape is one.

As the DA’s website puts it, its challenge is to provide an “open opportunity-driven society for all”, in contrast to the “closed, crony society for some” offered by the ANC. The buzzword appears to be “probity”, with the party demanding “the highest standards of ethical behaviour” from its members.

Why, then, does Theodorus Bernardus Beyleveldt appear on their lists of candidates: number 22 on the national list, and number 19 on the Western Cape list?

The ex-SADF general and current executive mayor of the Overstrand municipality (Hermanus and surrounds) has been at the centre of allegations of racism, corruption, cronyism, bullying and a total disregard for the environment, on these pages and elsewhere. In Hermanus, the white community, and especially the very important golf club, is bizarrely still divided on language lines, while the residents of nearby Hawston township were recently driven to protest about their sense of exclusion, with one community leader declaring Hermanus the most racist town in the country.

Many who would wish to support Helen Zille’s bid for the Western Cape premiership find the arrogance and stupidity of her party representatives in the Overberg intolerable. Biggest bone of contention remains the Fernkloof golf development, where municipal land was sold as part of a plan to convert the municipal golf course into an upmarket golf estate. It’s widely suspected that, Rabcav, the “facilitation company” appointed by the council, made loads of money, while the town made zilch. The development has left a bitter legacy – the golf club is, we understand, insolvent, and at a recent meeting the “development committee” walked out, rather than face questions about its finances.

The best way to dispel these rumours would be to release audited accounts, but these never appear. In frustration, the chairperson of the ratepayers’ association sent an email on 5 March to Beyleveldt’s right-hand man, municipal manager Werner Zybrands (with a copy to provincial premier, Lynne Brown). In it he says: “This was a multi-million rand development undertaken by the Overstrand Municipality, but no reference to it can be found in the Annual Report 2007-2008. In terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act and the Access to Information Act, we believe that the requested information should now be made available.”

Zybrands’ considered response (in an email marked Low Priority): “Your request is being attended to.” The same arrogance and lack of accountability comes through in Zybrands’ correspondence with noseweek.

Noseweek wrote: “You told us last year that, barring any unforeseen problems, the audited financial statements for the Fernkloof golf development would be available by the end of 2008. We understand that the 2007/2008 audited municipal report is now out, and that there is no mention of the Fernkloof development. Could you please explain why this is? Are we to assume that there are problems?” Zybrands’ full response, again in an email marked Low Priority: “Why would you want to assume that there are problems?”.

Another development evoking strong emotions is a proposed golf development, complete with shopping mall, on a farm outside Stanford, a hamlet close to Hermanus. Well-founded objections have been raised by numerous resident and environment groups.

Yet the municipal authorities are so keen to see this development go ahead, that they have even hosted a “facilitation” meeting to try and defuse the opposition. The objectors now have another ground of objection – clear bias on the part of the body which needs to make the decision.

When the local paper asked Zybrands to comment, he trotted out a host of reasons why the development should go ahead, all of which are disputed by the objectors. His most remarkable comment: “We are governing on behalf of all the people, not only an exclusive few, and a golfing estate will open jobs as caddies, maintenance staff, hospitality staff and domestic workers to many jobless in the area.” Who does he think he’s kidding? His council’s actions undoubtedly favour an exclusive few – the developers, perhaps a few municipal officials, and the few hundred wealthy whites who will own houses in the sanitised apartheid-style village.

The blatant arrogance and lack of accountability points to a very worrying development: in a country which is about to elect a patently corrupt man to its highest office, and which, in order to do so, has shut down the only law enforcement body which made people think twice about taking a bribe – fraud and corruption are no longer regarded as crimes.

And how’s this for irony – mayor Beyle­veldt has just thrown his considerable weight behind a new campaign to restore moral standards in Hermanus!

The Editor


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