Inaccurate reporting about the proposed developments of Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resorts

Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) has noted with discontent, that factually incorrect reporting has been circulating in the media space over the past few weeks. Facts have been twisted through promoting a narrative put forward that the district municipality’s leadership has been hiding information that was uncovered/discovered “by chance” or through “investigation”. We wish to place it on record that all information on matters relating to the proposed developments of both municipal resorts have been shared with Council, the public and [the] media.

To imply that the district has not followed due process, or even made a decision to appoint a service provider to develop resorts without following a public participation process is deceitful and part of a narrative which hampers the districts growth, its prospects and reputation.

The purpose of the existence of the municipality is to serve the interests of our communities. The media exists in the same spirit and belief; given that the interests are the same, the GRDM believes it will only serve well to give factual news to the very communities we all want to see prosper.

Response to article about a 50-year lease to German firm

An article published on the 14th of June 2019 by the Cape Times, titled “Outrage as families’ land claim loses out to 50-year lease to a German firm,” is misleading.

On our records, there was never a formal dispute of ownership recorded or any land-claim matter relating to both resorts. The Municipality only became aware of these disputes from the affected families who registered their objections during the Public Participation process, relating to Calitzdorp Spa. Consequently, the municipality sought clarities from the Chief Land Claims Office. The letter from the Office of the Regional Chief Land Claims Commissioner, dated 28 May 2019 on this matter, dictates that the claims were lodged by the Prins family before 31 December 1998. The letter from the Regional Chief Land Claims Commissioner further indicates that the matter is still under investigation.

To date, there is no signed Lease Agreement with Len24 Gmbh or any other company. No award has been made to Len24 Gmbh on the management and operation of Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resort as reported by Cape Times. Furthermore, the municipality refutes claims that no due processes were followed to this point in time.

During April 2019, a public notice was advertised in the Group Editors newspaper. This notice was presented in terms of the:

  • Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act (No 56 of 2003);
  • Municipal Asset Transfer Regulations (R878 of 2008);
  • Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (No 3 of 2000); and
  • Local Government: Municipal Systems Act (No 32 of 2000)

The notice read that the Council of Garden Route District Municipality in terms of Resolution H.2, intends to enter into a long-term lease agreement (50 years) with LEN24 Gmbh to manage and operate De Hoek Mountain Resort and Calitzdorp Spa.

Furthermore, the notice emphasised the municipality’s prospect to enter into a lease agreement with a successful tenderer. This was the intent and should be seen as the cornerstone of a key social-entrepreneurial venture, which could have an immense positive socio-economic impact on the region.

The pieces of legislation stated above outlines what processes ought to be followed by the municipality in pursuing a transaction of this nature. This has indeed been strictly followed.

The above processes have been informed to Council, who have been aware of the municipality’s visit to Indonesia. A report was tabled to the GRDM Council about the trip. Moreover, the trip to Indonesia was made public by the municipality to inform communities of the initiative which was being embarked on. Reports that this trip was concealed are fictitious!

Garden Route Investment Conference

The GRDM on March 7 to 8, 2018, hosted an inaugural Garden Route Investment Conference at Oubaai Hotel Golf and Spa.

This conference was in line with the municipality’s vision of responding to a constitutional mandate as enunciated in the objects of Local Government that of,promoting social and economic development”.

 Additionally, it aimed at addressing one of the municipality’s Strategic Objectives which reads: “Growing an inclusive District Municipality”. This conference was the way in which the district municipality could exercise one of its functions – to unlock economic opportunities within the district through attracting domestic and foreign direct investment to the region. During the Conference, all municipalities in the region were provided with a platform to outline their packaged investment opportunities to prospective investors.

It was a full-house at the Garden Route Investment Conference which was held in March 2018 at Oubaai near George

Objectives of the conference

The overarching objective of the conference was to attract national (including local) and international investors to the Garden Route region and to showcase the investment potential and opportunities that exist within the area that included:

  • providing an overview of the National, Provincial and Regional economic development trajectories to investors;
  • showcasing investment/business success stories as case studies;
  • pursuing business development and fostering relations with prospective investors;
  • facilitating investment by pre-identifying and providing customized information packages to prospective investors regarding opportunities;
  • providing one-on-one sessions between municipalities/businesses and potential investors;
  • ensuring that measures are in place for a smooth and efficient planning process. This can help generate investment outcomes (ease of doing business, investment readiness, etc.); and
  • providing a platform where incentives can be shared with investors.

GRDM is committed to positioning itself as a destination of choice for national and international investment and has embarked on various initiatives to realise this objective. It is for this reason enunciated below that the two resorts were among the properties identified for possible investment opportunities.

Non-Profitable Municipal Resorts

The Municipality has been making huge losses for more than a decade in order to sustain operations on both establishments (Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resort). Resources currently being used to keep these resorts running could be channelled to other service delivery projects which could have a greater socio-economic impact on our region.

If the current status quo is not addressed this might results in the closure of the resorts and the loss of jobs. It is some of these reasons that GRDM became proactive to engage in the processes outlined above. The envisaged partnership (which is still being discussed), if successful, will results in the boost of the local economy, creation of many jobs in excess of 1000 and bring massive upgrades to the infrastructure in those communities.