On 12 April 2019, the Garden Route District Municipality’s (GRDM) Executive Mayor, Councillor Memory Booysen, took an unprecedented step for the District by delivering its first State of the District Address (SODA). The purpose of such an address is to outline the council’s achievements, as well as to emphasise the exciting future projects and spin-offs for local municipalities (Hessequa, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Bitou, Oudtshoorn and Kannaland) in the region.
More than 200 people attended the event, including the mayors of all b-municipalities, councillors, faith-based community leaders, business owners, stakeholders, media and municipal officials.
The programme was directed by the GRDM Speaker, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies. In a moment of reminiscence, Bouw-Spies touched on how council, even before she became speaker, have been able to take non-partisan decisions to the benefit of the region’s brand and economy. “I might not have been actively involved at the district council, but since my appointment as speaker late last year, I have been responsible for mediating some vigorous – sometimes robust debates, but in my objective view as the Speaker, I have also seen how both sides of the house have been in agreement on many occasions. A prime example of our synergy and decisions made in the best interest of our region was changing our municipality’s name and visual identity. Have you ever seen a name-changing process unfold with such ease as well as a new logo adopted without much hassle? The transition was indeed a beautiful, inclusive and a well-thought-through process,” she said.
During Councillor Booysen’s keynote address, he focused on the following topics:
- Improvement in local service delivery;
- Current socio-economic risks;
- Embracing the district municipality’s functions and powers as set out by Section 84 of the Local Government Structures Act 117 of 1998;
- 2019/2020 GRDM budget;
- Regional investment opportunities;
- Disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction funding;
- A future of sustainable energy future;
- Game changers going forward;
- Empowerment of youth and women;
- Building a cohesive region through signature events; and
- Empowerment of women and the youth.
EMPOWERMENT OF YOUTH AND WOMEN
Mayor Booysen also placed emphasis on the fight to empower youth and women, which must be taken to the mainstream economy so that it reflects the diverse character of the Garden Route. “GRDM has transitioned young men and women to the driving school program, which is currently underway. Out of 26 participants in the driving school program, 23 are women.
The municipality continues to provide bursaries to the youth of our district, through the office of the executive mayor. “It is through education that we can unleash creativity and cultivate a spirit of resilience among citizens,” said Booysen.
SPECIAL WORD OF APPRECIATION
Mayor Booysen extended a special word to Ms Erina de Villiers, Personal Assistant to the municipal manager, Mr Monde Stratu. She retires at the end of April 2019. Booysen described Erina as “not only an employee of this municipality or a colleague to others but a mother to the institution.”
“She has been with this institution for 22 years, happily married to Mr Jacobus de Villiers, blessed with two (2) children and five (5) grandchildren. I can tell you that she inherited more children at GRDM with the municipal manager being her first-born.
During her employment at GRDM, Erina worked in the following sections:
- Office of the Municipal Manager (current);
- Records and Archives;
- Project Management; and
- Office of the Mayor.
Later during the course of the programme, Grant-in-Aid funds were handed over. The following organisations identified for this year, in no particular order, include: Albertinia Museum, Zoar Culture and Heritage Festival, Bambino Voorskool, Emmanuel Pre & aftercare Centre, Neskuikentjie Daycare, Plett Active Youth, Piet Julies Aids Action Group, Heidal Senior Citizens Club, Die Mosselbaai Benevolent Vereniging vir Bejaarde Sorg, Joey’s Babies kleuterskool, Soete Uurtjies Dagsorgsentrum, Suurvlakte Initiative, Rehoboth and Yona – Yethu Initiative.
Nedbank sponsored the New Horizon Pensioners Forum and Group Of Hope Disability Group.
Mayor Booysen shared some of his dreams for the district: “A ‘One District’ …a dream of what we can be.”
“How we share and shape our future together – a future where more and more of our people see and believe in rich vistas of opportunity; an environment where the Garden Route dream is embraced as the district dream,” Booysen said.
Booysen’s ideas on how to collectively build a “One District” of our dreams where everyone has the opportunity to participate in a diverse and thriving economy, could be achieved through the following:
- Being able to live in a safe neighbourhood, free from crime;
- Having the opportunity as parents to send one’s children to a quality public school of your choice;
- Living a limitless life – allowing one to thrive as an individual and/or family;
- For a business to be given a solid return on their investment by their government and high-quality customer service from public servants; and
- A region that is environmentally sound in a sustainable world-renowned region.
In closing, Mayor Booysen pleaded with everyone to take full advantage of their lives and to follow a path that would provide a prosperous future, harness change for the better, and build the elusive “One District” that we all dream of.
To access the speech of Councillor Memory Booysen, click on the following link: http://www.gardenroute.gov.za/2019/04/13/2019-soda-speech-executive-mayor-cllr-memory-booysen/
Pictures of the SODA can be accessed by clicking on the following link: