A New Year message from the MDGA Executive Committe

To all our members …

Everyone on the Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee (MDGA ExCom) trusts that the festive season brought joy and happiness to you and your families in our beautiful neighbourhood, still the Cape’s best-kept secret. Listening to the influx of youngsters into the Marina and seeing so many people of all ages responsibly enjoying our waterways on various floating craft has been truly uplifting.

Other highlights were our year-end festivities, including the children’s Christmas party with Santa Claus and a magician along with face-painting and games. The Christmas carols were equally memorable. Thanks to your kindness, we were able to spread the joy beyond our community by donating extra gifts to Where Rainbows Meet in Vrygrond. The generosity you showed towards Cape Town’s less privileged communities was humbling.

Unfortunately, we start the New Year confronting the familiar problem of load shedding, which plays havoc at home and across our waterways by causing regular sewerage spills.

The City of Cape Town has been remarkably responsive, attending to spillages and repairing burst pipes – even on Christmas Day. Well done to the teams involved and thank you from all of us at the MDGA!

Now to matters related to the Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS).

As we have already reported, two MDGA members asked CSOS to adjudicate against the MDGA ExCom on various matters. Most importantly, both applicants asked for the ExCom to be declared non-quorate and that a General Meeting be called.

In the first complaint, CSOS3611/WC/22 (or C1), CSOS rejected two of the complainant’s adjudication requests but confirmed that a General Meeting should be called. In the second complaint, CSOS004107/WC/22 (C2), the complainant requested six adjudications, and the adjudicator rejected and dismissed all six requests. One request was rejected because it was outside CSOS’s mandate or terms of reference. Two requests were rejected because MDGA ExCom could not supply information requested by complainant since the information does not exist. A further three requests were dismissed. The final adjudication order read: “The relief sought by the Applicant is misconceived and accordingly dismissed in terms of section 53(1) of the CSOS Act.”

The point of this detail is that we now have two CSOS adjudications that contradict each other.

In response to C1, CSOS adjudicated that MDGA ExCom must hold a General Meeting to address the issue of ExCom being non-quorate; the unconstitutionality of the non-quorate ExCom meeting held on 6 July 2022; and the co-option of ExCom members. Meanwhile, in response to C2, CSOS stated, and here we paraphrase, that:

1.)    The request for an order invalidation of the appointment of Richard Midgley, Patrick McKenna, Demetri Qually and Dominique Erasmus at the meeting where they were appointed did not quorate is dismissed by adjudicator.

2.)    It was found that ExCom was appointed in a properly constituted AGM and the relief sought by the applicant is misconceived and accordingly dismissed; and, finally

3.)    The relief sought by applicant in prayers (calling for a General Meeting to appoint ExCom) is dismissed.

To repeat: the adjudication in C2 is directly contradictory to the adjudication in C1. Importantly, in your ExCom’s view, and in the view of our counsel and attorney, CSOS interpreted our actions correctly in its response to C2.

What to do?

As a responsible MDGA ExCom, we have consulted widely and professionally and have always been mindful of any cost implications for the MDGA and its members. Several MDGA members, including ex-ExCom chairs and ex ExCom members from before, 2017 have also been at pains to highlight the same cost implications. This, despite the fact that these same people sat on or advised the ExCom when, according to the MDGA’s audited financial statements, it spent over R147,000 on legal fees over three years objecting to a rezoning application in the Marina. Furthermore, before 2017 ExCom spent this money without ever getting authorisation from members or advising members of the expenditure or potential amounts involved. It is true, however, that the previous ExCom did involve members in a petition. At the 2017 AGM, the issue was raised by the complainant who lodged C1. ExCom’s response then was: ExCom, your elected body, agreed to fund the legal expenses as per its mandate

The current ExCom has taken to heart the advice it has been given. Accordingly, we corresponded with CSOS about a zero-cost extension, which is within CSOS’s powers to grant, on 14 November 2022; again, telephonically on 8 December 2022; and in a subsequent email confirming this telephonic conversation on the 9th of December 2022. Unfortunately, our efforts have been to no avail.

As a result, we have no option but to seek a review of the C1 adjudication as per the Adjudication Order in C2. Your duly elected ExCom is also in the process of engaging legal counsel to ensure we get an order setting aside the C1 adjudication order and suspending its effect pending a review. Our best estimate of this action’s costs to the MDGA is in the order of R30,000.

Hopefully, we will be able to resolve this issue in the early part of 2023. We also trust that the current MDGA ExCom has earned the overwhelming support that members have shown towards us in the numerous emails we have received. Thank you to everyone who has backed our position.

Looking ahead, we trust that this will be the year when the loadshedding eases off, the sewerage spills are eliminated, the new Kingfisher is delivered and all your wishes and hopes for a fabulous 2023 come true!

With very best wishes,

Marina da Gama Association Executive Committee