A war of words is raging on Facebook among members of the Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) including former executive committee (exco) members Leon Alhadeff (who was the organisation’s chairman) and Mike Clery, and current TVRA chair Mandy Da Matta.
It appears the spat was sparked by comments posted on Facebook that Ms Da Matta had been seen with Ward 107 DA candidate Nicky Rheeder.
Ms Da Matta who was sworn in as the new chairwoman of the TVRA a little more than two months ago, shot back saying she had not been in Ms Rheeder’s company and to prove it posted a selfie with her friend, Zita Teixeira, who had been with her at the time.
Brendan Keith Shaw, who is known for his daily rants about the MyCiTi service, later posted a public apology to Ms Da Matta and Ms Rheeder, saying he felt “used and abused” by those who had given him the information, and that “at no time did I physically see said parties …together”.
The apology was accepted by both Ms Da Matta and Ms Rheeder.
Despite the matter having been laid to rest, underlying tensions within the TVRA erupted in a string of comments with a range of issues being brought to the fore, among them the manner in which some members were apparently removed from the exco, the need for a special general meeting (SGM) and an alleged lack of transparency and communication by the exco.
Currently, the TVRA exco includes Mandy Da Matta, Ron Bonthuys, Liza Wilson, Jamie Agenbag and Alex Lepnik. Those who have left the exco recently include Stephen Stauch, who is the Freedom Front Plus candidate councillor for Ward 113; Mike Channing; Leon Alhadeff and Kelly Lee Rau who have all made themselves available for candicacy as ACDP councillors and Christiana Groenewoud, who is 44th on the DA’s PR (proportional representation) list for the local elections.
Mr Channing is contesting the election in Ward 23; Mr Alhadeff is standing for election in Ward 107 and Ms Rau is contesting Ward 113.
TVRA member Schulla Pronk pointed out that in the past two months, the exco had shrunk by almost half, with five of the nine elected TVRA executive members no longer serving on the board.
“As members we have the right to know what is going on, especially as it was our choice to have certain people serve our community,” said Ms Pronk, calling for a special general meeting “to have matters addressed”.
Those comments on the post pointed out that, according to the TVRA’s constitution, a special general meeting can take place if 10 paid up TVRA members approved the meeting.
Mr Channing, one of the five members who has recently left the TVRA executive committee, was the first to approve the call for an SGM, stating that: “There should be no secrets and hidden agendas. The mission and vision statement of the TVRA is clear, and the exco has the obligation to uphold this constitution.”
Mr Clery also supported the call for an SGM to be convened, wanting answers as to why there has been such a high turnover of exco members.
“Something seems to be wrong, and members need to make the decisions on how to address any issues. I’ll take this opportunity to strongly object to any ‘hidden’ activities or agendas on the part of the exco; the TVRA exco’s actions must be completely transparent,” said Mr Clery.
Further support for the SGM came from members such as Leon Alhadeff, Alex Lepnik, Tony Pronk, Angus Brits and Jan Van Der Eecken.
Ms Da Matta, however, argued that: “There are five exco members in good standing so the quorum is not in danger.”
But a rebuttal came from Mr Alhadeff who said: “I am sorry to butt in here at the 12th hour but if 10 members of this association feel the need for a SGM such can be called.
The chairman would then be required to chair such a meeting but if such is called, the chairman’s objection to such is not valid and or of concern. This RA serves the interests of this community first and foremost.”
Colin Fisher who described himself as a “non-member” posted on the TVRA page that there was “no way in hell” he could be convinced to join the TVRA.
“I say this not because I do not want to join but because I do not want to be involved in a contest of whose ego is bigger than the next. Clearly there are some serious agendas at play and personality conflicts that appear to be undermining the fundamental reason why the organisation is alive in the first place,” said Mr Fisher.
Michael Wilson then weighed in, urging everyone involved in “this soap opera” to work towards a common goal.
“Seriously, folks, every person involved is supposed to be doing what they can for the community, and by people leaving on their own accord or being kicked out or whatever, it is the community that will end up suffering,” he said.
When Tabletalk asked Ms Da Matta to comment on the spat, she told us via email that “at this stage, the Table View Ratepayers’ Association is declining to comment”.
Among the questions we had posed to Ms Da Matta was what had sparked the war of words, whether the TVRA had come to a decision about the SGM and what her thoughts were on the perception that executive members of the TVRA used their positions to get ahead politically.
Mr Alhadeff initially commented on the matter, but later retracted his response, accusing Tabletalk of having misled him into believing his comments were being sought for clarification only.
While Ms Da Matta had threatened legal action against individuals she believed were trying to slander her “good name” she posted two days later on the Table View Frustrated Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Facebook page that they are trying to find a date for the SGM and that the spat had been nothing more than “a storm in a teacup.”
* In a bid to find out what recourse members had if they were unhappy with the functioning of their civic or ratepayers’ organisations, Tabletalk consulted Philip Bam, chairman of the Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance (GCTCA).
He said that ratepayers’ associations were independent bodies and even though some of them may be affiliated to the GCTCA, the GCTCA had no say in how they handled their affairs. He added that the TVRA was not a member of the GCTCA.
“My advice is that people don’t have to belong to just one ratepayers’ association.
“There will always be strife within an organisation. It is always better to have one great voice of the suburb, but if that does not work out ratepayers can form another ratepayers’ association and leave the one they are unhappy with,” said Mr Bam.