Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council Meeting on 25 May 2021
Thank you, Speaker
As always, I remain a very competitive person, so I do not like to be outdone by the opposition party. The opposition party has welcomed a new member of their team. Still, at the same time, I am taking this opportunity to introduce and welcome my newly appointed Mayoral Committee member, Cllr Bernardus Van Wyk. Please take note that he replaces one of my previous Mayco members, Cllr Joslyn Johnson. Cllr Van Wyk is a competent member of my party, and I know that we will hit the ground running.
In terms of those listening to us on Youtube and Facebook, I am also proudly announcing and challenging everybody who forms part of the Garden Route District Municipality to be reminded of a campaign we are running in collaboration with Eden FM Vodacom and George Museum. The drive we are collaboratively working on is coined as the “Walk a Child to School” campaign. Through this campaign, we’ve identified schools where the most vulnerable and most impoverished kids are schooled. We mainly focus on learners at farm schools and low fee schools, etc. Those participating in this campaign can donate shoes to these schools by dropping off shoes to these kids at all our Garden Route District Municipality offices in the region, Eden FM, Vodacom or George Museum offices. We need kid-sizes of 10 to 7 for this specific campaign. Please come on board because we would like to have this campaign finalised before the end of June 2021.
It also gives me pleasure to announce here that last Friday, I visited a small business with Councillors in Oudtshoorn, specifically De Hoek Mountain Resort, where the Western Cape Honeybush Co-operative is currently stationed. There is massive potential for the demand for Honeybush tea, especially on an international level. They plan to broaden their scope by expanding their business model to a tourism attraction near the Cango Caves. They have big plans, and this will have spin-offs for De Hoek Mountain Resort. People must watch this space.
In the same vein, we also visited the Calitzdorp Spa because we were in that area. I would like to extend a word of gratitude to the Municipal Manager, Monde Stratu and officials. They are involved in these type of projects. As it stands, we are currently upgrading Calitzdorp Spa with our funding, and the first phase is to replace the thatch roofs. The second phase would be to upgrade the interior of the resort. We need to explore more ways to up the standards of the resort.
I also want to take a moment to acknowledge what our officials are doing, particularly the Human Settlements Unit. We are aware that we signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements in terms of us getting into the human settlements space. I know that there are still some unanswered questions or clarity about what role we will play in terms of that. I want to say thank you to Joel and Shehaam for going from municipality to municipality to outline this draft integrated human settlements plan. The Municipal Manager and I remain on standby if we are required to outline our role if we are required to do so. We do not want any miscommunications or misunderstandings in this regard. I want to emphasise again – we are not trying to take over the Breaking New Ground projects from local municipalities; we are here to fill the gap and enhance what they are doing.
Two weeks ago, I congratulated and encouraged participants who formed part of the peace officer and learner and drivers license programmes. During this event, which took place at the Rosemoor Stadium in George, I also recognised the achievements of the youth. We also committed that that would not be the end of those projects, especially not in the Garden Route. The skills funding we funded filled the gaps for many of the job requirements currently in the market. We are clear that we will continue with those kinds of projects.
Ald. Groenewald, because of the massive unemployment in South Africa and the Garden Route, we will continue to get the youth on board and skilled to become employable. I want to see more entrepreneurs, partners in terms of what our vision is for the region. Based on that Alderman Groenewald, we have approached the National Skills Fund. They paid us a due diligence visit to verify the training organisations and clarify contractual issues for when funding is approved. This will be a significant injection to youth development skills in our region. This will be of benefit to women and differently-abled Garden Routers too.
Mr Speaker, we will remember that we’ve had two skills summits, and we are also well on our way to becoming a skills mecca. There is also a new skills summit envisaged for the near future. At that skills summit, it will be a list of dreams that we want to achieve and an overview of what has been achieved from the other skills summits. We will be dealing with concrete numbers during the next meeting.
We are also due for a State of the District Address; what were the achievements since we took office in 2016 to date. The SODA is set for 17 June 2021. The identified hosting municipality is Bitou Local Municipality’s Piesang Valley Hall. Logistics will be communicated in due time – the whens and hows. I also want to call all councillors in terms of their attendance; please indicate as soon as possible who will be attending. We will also ensure that Councillors will be able to invite their partners to the SODA.
The approach following the SODA will offer opposition parties to pose questions, raise their concerns and provide inputs on 18 June 2021 during a Special Council meeting. Ald. Groenewald, I would still like your inputs about this before we set it in stone. The idea will then be at the next Ordinary Council meeting to respond to all the questions posed by Councillors. Ald. Booysen, we will take your guidance on how exactly to approach this going forward.
Lastly, Ald. Groenewald, we are concerned about the 3rd wave of Coronavirus. We know the Western Cape is still on high alert, and we are monitoring what is happening in terms of it in our area. We cannot take anything for granted and remain on high alert – in particular, because of the fact that we are planning a SODA. I would like to reiterate that we are monitoring what is happening in terms of COVID-19. We remain flexible on how we will deal with the SODA if positive cases increase.