Quorum crunch cans TVRA meeting

Mandy Da Matta

The Table View Ratepayers’ Association had to cancel its AGM last week as too few members attended for the meeting to go ahead.

Before the meeting ended due to a lack of quorum, Tabletalk and a group of non-members were asked to leave by TVRA chairwoman Mandy da Matta.

Ms Da Matta told Tabletalk the executive committee had, on Monday February 27, decided by majority vote that the AGM would be a “members-only” meeting.

“No member of the media was invited to be present, as this was an ideal opportunity for the members to discuss their issues without fear of being exposed or ridiculed on social media, or otherwise, for their viewpoints.”

She added that because Leon Alhadeff and Tony and Schulla Pronk were no longer members of the TVRA, they had also been asked to leave.

A war of words between the TVRA exco and former members erupted last year (“Stormy weather for TVRA,” Tabletalk, July 20) and continued throughout the rest of the year, with angry rebuffs and tiffs on social media.

It all came to a head late last year when 29 members were either suspended or resigned.

Ms Da Matta said they had ended last year with “230-odd” members.

“Members fell away mostly due to membership fees not being paid up and/ or renewed. In this time period, we had nine resignations,” she said.

At the time of the AGM, Ms Da Matta said, there were 194 members, requiring 39 members in attendance at the AGM.

Thirty-three members signed in, six of whom were proxies.

“All proxies where disallowed by our accountants due the TVRA constitution stipulating that members had to be present. This, in effect, reduced the members present down to 27 members. Clearly not meeting the number required for the AGM to proceed,” said Ms Da Matta.

As new members who were already seated for Thursday’s meeting turned around uncomfortably to see what was going on, Ms Da Matta introduced herself and then declared that the meeting was closed as she had been informed by her auditor there was no quorum.

The day before the AGM, Tabletalk met with some of the former TVRA members who had been suspended or resigned during the course of last year.

Mr Alhadeff and Mike Channing, a veteran member of 33 years, claimed the issues had surfaced when Ms Da Matta tried to take ownership of the treasury portfolio while she was the chair of the organisation.

The other point of contention, they said, was the demand by former TVRA members for the exco to answer for
R3 000 which allegedly had not been deposited almost three months later and was unaccounted for.

The dissatisfied former members said they had requested an audit, which they had offered to pay for, should there not be sufficient funds.

In a letter shown to Tabletalk, dated November 10, the 29 former members, wrote, “based on the fact that an amount of approximately
R3 000 in cash, in respect of membership fees received for the SGM (special general meeting), had not been deposited, we the undersigned members hereby demand a full independent audit up until November 7, 2016 on the TVRA finances, as well as the membership database…

“It is incumbent on the association to prove and confirm that there had indeed been so many new membership sign-ups to ratify the appearance and subsequent disappearance of this amount.”

The 29 former members also claimed that with the high turnaround of the exco members (11 members) in the past six months, they had wanted the independent audit to determine that the new exco members had indeed become members before they were elected, and they had asked for their exact joining dates to be confirmed as well as the validity of proxies submitted by members.

A forensic investigation has been done, but the former members say it is not independent.

They claim the man hired to do the forensic audit, is “not an admitted public accountant” and is employed by the firm which is also the managing agent for a complex in which Ms Da Matta owns property and is the chairwoman of that homeowners’ association.

The firm, the former members claim, “derives a monthly income as a result of this relationship. No such relationship was declared in the final investigation report”.

The group say that while they offered to pay for an independent audit, they have now received accounts to pay for the forensic investigation, they claim is “very far from being independent”.

Ms Da Matta, however, denied the accusations, saying that, at an executive meeting held in December 2016, by a unanimous vote, it had been decided to broaden the scope of the audit to take it back to January 1 2015 “to ensure total transparency of all the records of the association and to further ensure that TVRA records and processes were up to date and in good order”.

She also denied claims of business connections between her self and the firm that did the audit. “(They) are not the management agents of any property that I currently own. (They) were appointed by the exco in December last year,” she told Tabletalk.

In the audit, made available on March 16, the firm said the “finalisation of the report was dependent on Mr Alhadeff supplying information relative to the administration of the association between May 2015 and May 2016.

Mr Alhadeff told Tabletalk he had offered his full co-operation, but his response had been excluded from the final report.

The audit said “Mr Alhadeff was given the opportunity to meet with us and provide the documents.”

However, Mr Alhadeff maintains the report was “hastily finalised while he was busy negotiating a meeting date”.

He also claims he had requested the right to respond on three separate occasions and that these requests “were ignored and no response has been published and or emailed to members”.

According to notifications about the AGM, a report-back on the audit – in addition to the voting in of a new exco – had been on the meeting’s agenda.

Mr Alhadeff showed Tabletalk an email he had written to Ms Da Matta in which he said he would be present so that he could offer his input on the forensic investigation report.

He said that as the “right to respond had been denied” (previously), he had attended the AGM as he felt the report “lays blame at his feet”.

Asked for her thoughts on the internal divisions in the TVRA, Ms Da Matta said: “We are aware that a few members are dissatisfied with what they perceive to be a lack of transparency.”

She said it should be noted that files, membership lists, receipt books, and all TVRA documentation inclusive of minutes of meetings had sat with the auditors from late November last year till Friday March 24, effectively causing the organisation to be unable to provide any information on membership and related matters”.

Despite these divisions, she said, she saw a “very bright future” for the organisation and that “membership is growing with applications coming in on a regular basis”.