The Council meeting will be live streamed on the municipality’s official Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UC66RBZT0_U2_L4-zSn7yXJQ
Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality council inaugurated – leaders elected
For Immediate Release
26 November 2021
Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) held its Inaugural Council meeting yesterday, 25 November 2021, at the Civic Centre in George. The GRDM had to wait for all seven (7) local municipalities in the District (Hessequa, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Bitou, Greater Oudtshoorn and Kannaland) to constitute their Councils. The Municipal Manager of GRDM, Monde Stratu, led the proceedings of the Inaugural Council meeting until a Speaker was elected.
Being sworn in requires each Councillor to pledge by swearing or affirming that they would be faithful to the Republic of South Africa and obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the country. This legal proceeding was officiated by Senior Magistrate from George, Mr Zeka.
TOP LEADERSHIP POSITIONS FILLED
The first voting that took place was for the Speaker of the GRDM. Ald. Georlene Wolmarans from the Democratic Alliance (DA) received the most votes for the position against the African National Congress (ANC) Cllr Chris Taute. Cllr Taute received 15 votes, while Ald. Wolmarans received 18.
The second voting that took place was for the position of Executive Mayor. Alderman Memory Booysen from the DA added another feather to his cap after being elected for this position with 18 votes. He was up against Ald. Virgill Gericke from the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) who received 15 votes. The 2021/22 – 2026/27 term will be Ald. Booysen’s second one as Executive Mayor for GRDM and third term as a Mayor. He’s was also a Mayor for Bitou Municipality in the past. It is not often seen that Executive Mayors at a district-level get a second term, which is evidence that he has been highly favoured amongst others for being an Executive Mayor for all, no matter their political affiliation. He emphasised his commitment to being a leader for all during his acceptance speech – read it here.
Shortly after electing an Executive Mayor, Cllr Gert van Niekerk from the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) was elected as Executive Deputy Mayor. He managed to win by getting 19 votes against Councillor Richard Hector from GOOD, who received 14 votes. Subsequent to the Deputy Mayor being elected, Ald. Petru Terblanche from the DA was elected as the whip of Council. He is the former Speaker of Mossel Bay Municipality (MBM) – the best run local municipality in South Africa and the first municipality to have held its inaugural Council meeting. Theirs was held on 10 November 2021.
GRDM welcomes its new leadership and Councillors. “We look forward to working with the newly elected Council to continue the sterling work predecessors did for the region,” said Monde Stratu, Municipal Manager for GRDM.
- View a gallery of photos of Councillors taking an oath of office here.
- View general photos taken at the inauguration here.
- Individual Portraits of Councillors are accessible here.
- View the Youtube stream of the inauguration here.
The list of Councillors who now form part of the GRDM Council, includes:
- Memory Booysen
- Georlene Wolmarans
- Stephen De Vries
- Clodia Lichaba
- Viniola Gungubele
- Jacobus Meiring
- Petru Terblanche
- Coenraad A Swart
- Koos Malooi
- Clive Scheepers
- Betsie van Noordwyk
- Christopher Taute
- Mercia Draghoender
- Danie Acker
- Jerome Lambaatjeen
- Sharon van Rooyen
- Kaynal Adams
- Joey Canary
- Hyran Ruiters
- Rosina Ruiters
- Anco Barker
- Marulyn Kannemeyer
- Mzwandile Mkonto
- Nompulelo Ndayi
- Nokuthula Seti
- Hilton Stroebel
- Aubrey Tswenga
- Virgill Gericke
- Iona Kritzinger
- Daniel Cronje
- Simphiwe Toto
- Gert van Niekerk
- Richard Hector
- Thando Matika
Acceptance Speech – Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen
25 November 2021
Alderman Memory Booysen acknowledge the presence of the Western Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Minister Tertius Simmers and the Executive Mayor of Knysna, Cllr Levael Davis.
People of the Garden Route, I greet you all and greet you in the name of our different religions and traditions.
All protocol observed.
Ladies and gentlemen, for some people this might be bling, but for the majority of the people of the Garden Route, this is hope.
Madam Speaker, there are also times when people are looking up to a Mayor and expect to be helped, and then it so happens that as a Mayor, I will never be able to please everyone. At the times that I can’t please everyone, those are the times that one goes through blood, sweat and tears.
Madam Speaker, I want to make a special acknowledgement to people who are always by my side when I go through blood, sweat and tears. I want to start by mentioning my mother. My mum is here; she is 86 years old. My mom had two strokes. She will probably never say it to me, but probably at times, I went through the blood, sweat and tears – that is when she got worried about her son. To my mom, I know you will never experience this day again. I cherish this day; I cherish this moment. I will never be a Mayor again, but you will always be my mother and may God bless you.
We’ve just lit a candle to illustrate that we are against gender-based violence. It reminded me how important women are in our lives. We are here because of women, then our brothers and sisters, etc. I also want to acknowledge another woman who is now part of my life. When it is hectic when I have to go home and cry, cowboys cry, especially mayors; then she is always there. To my wife, Nomthandazo, Florence, Elethu Booysen, thank you for being there during political hard times. I also want to acknowledge the presence of my sister, Laetitia Zembetha Booysen. Thank you very much for being by my side.
Now ladies and gentlemen and people of the Garden Route. I keep saying this; wherever you go and are a respectful person… you will always have a second mother; a second father, whether at school or work. There will always be someone you look up to. Colleagues, please also allow me to acknowledge my foster parents. I saw them; they are up in the gallery. People will never understand, and I will explain to you; my foster parents are white. My foster parents are nobody else than Wynn and Liz Mundel. Then there is also a guy, wherever I go, and again, I can explain this off the record. I used to be a hotel manager back in the day. People don’t understand this; to become somebody – somebody must make you that person. There is a guy, Siphiwe Jeremaya Dladla and his wife – you’ve always been there for me. When you become an executive, the first thing you need to have is a briefcase. My first briefcase was an old briefcase of Siphiwe, which he gave to me.
I also want to acknowledge the people with who I have worked with. Monde Stratu – you and your staff. We’ve watched you like the old guard. We’ve seen you operating. We are extremely proud of the Municipal Manager and all the staff of Garden Route District Municipality. You are doing us proud; we have never been in the news for the wrong reasons. This can only be because of your commitment to this institution.
To the new Councillors and I am going to mention names. We have started a tradition from 2016 up to now. I want to say to Alderman De Vries, Alderman Gericke and Alderman Harris in his absence – the tradition we started in this municipality is that we regard ourselves in the Garden Route as a political school. The reason why is because we are all equal. People have voted for us to lead them, serve them, and to do what they expect of us. I want to say thank you to those names I have just mentioned. I’ve also learned that the ropes have slightly changed as well; to Councillor Lichaba, my Deputy Advocate Van Niekerk and to the Whip, Alderman Terblanche. It is now up to all of us to continue in that vein. Let’s show the rest of the Western Cape that this is how it is done. We are talking about the Garden Route becoming a Skills Mecca. We are also a place where we show as politicians that each and everyone’s voice counts in this municipality.
To the Mayors, those who were here earlier, those who sent me messages of support and those who are watching online. I must boast to all of you – I am more blessed than you all. The reason for that is that I have never ever in my short political life served with so many former mayors, speakers, current mayors somewhere else. The experience in this council – I am in awe. I want to say to the former Mayors here, former speakers, former whips. People who have been in this hot seat before me; people who have more experience than me – I do rely on that experience. Let’s have our open-door policy; let us pick each other’s brains. Let us engage constructively.
This, again, to those watching this – the debate we had earlier on – I’ve seen it in other municipalities somewhere in South Africa. This could easily have turned out as a fiasco, but once again, because of the people’s experience in this building – Alderman Gericke, De Vries, everyone else in here. This is how it is done in South Africa.
We can differ – we can differ constructively, but most importantly, we’ve set the tone in the previous term. We’ve done unorthodox things as a district municipality. We got involved in Human Settlements; we got involved in becoming a Water Services Authority. It is not heard of in other places. The majority of district municipalities in the Western Cape are not water services authorities. I want to hammer on this; it is because we want to do better. It is because we want to work with the local municipalities.
I want to say, especially to the municipality and the people of Oudtshoorn and Kannaland. To those mayors in absentia – you are not an island in this district. If one looks at what happened during the elections, sometimes it is human nature; we tend to stick to the colours of our t-shirts – blue, red, green, yellow and black. This is not how we do it here. We forget about our political parties. This is why I am zooming into Oudtshoorn and Kannaland – there is not going to be a mentality that we, as Garden Route, or me as the Mayor, will only deal with my “blue friends”.
Oudtshoorn, Kannaland – you are part of this. You are not going to be an island. I am saying this to the Mayors out there – as of today; we will do things differently.
Now ladies and gentlemen, to the people of the Garden Route. Thank you very much for this occasion. To all the Councillors and officials in here, the work starts now.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.
Speech by Executive Mayor at the 2016/2017 – 2021/2022 final Garden Route District Municipality Council Meeting
Thank you Mr Speaker.
Mr Speaker, we, as believers, we believe that there is a time for everything. And the sad part about this is that some of these occasions are very emotional. There is a time to laugh, a time to come, and a time to go and also a time to celebrate. And you know, Mr Speaker, as we just announced, whilst people are celebrating, other people are grieving. We just heard the sad news about Alderman Gericke’s family; our prayers are with him and his family.
Mr Speaker, the main thing is that we’ve come a very long way and so did I. I know we all started in 2016, ‘our first term’, and along the way we’ve lost some of our fellow councillors. We have lost officials and some of us here have lost loved ones…the list goes on and on. So we are not a full team anymore, the team we started with in 2016 is no more; I will always carry great memories with me Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, what a lot of people don’t know, is sometimes we have to say these things.
On the other side of the house of the Council Chambers – the side of the African National Congress, there are two specific councillors; I have never said it to them and probably this is the best time to say it now. It is Aldermen Van der Hoven and De Vries. Politically I grew up with them being my leaders (political leaders) many years ago. I recall this being in the 90’s, in the early 2000’s. De Vries, at the time, was our Regional Chairperson and Alderman Van der Hoven, the party he still represents used to utilise him to come and check up on all the branches. Whenever there was something happening at branches (we did not understand our own party’s Constitution back at the time), they used to send Alderman Van der Hoven. At that time I was always wearing shorts, but now I wear a suit. Thank you very much to all the Councillors. You know, but one learns, a person learns good things – tricks of the trade to help you with your duties. So I took the best from what I’ve learned from them and I now blend it with what I have learned under the new blue machine. This approach has made me to become very versatile – so I want to thank them for the role they played in my career development.
Mr Speaker, the other thing on top of that, which is not something one would necessarily want to say out loudly, is that some of us are not coming back after the elections. For some of us it is deliberate, while for others it is because of misfortunes. But what I do want to say is that, I don’t care who says what. Whether I go to any other province; whether I would go to our federal offices; whether I go to Cape Town; wherever I go – I regard myself as the Mayor who is standing on a solid foundation. I am standing on a solid foundation because of each and every one of you here. I have learned something from all of you. Whether you are a Councillor or an official, it doesn’t matter. I have always learned something from somebody here. The others are not here today; they are online. The others are probably still at home and part of the meeting, but I have learned a lot from everybody. Even the people who serve tea and coffee at work. In the morning I greet them. In the morning they say something to me before we start our day; I’ve learned something out of that. And that is – what I’m applying as a parent, because I regard them as parents.
So, colleagues, it will never be the same again after this meeting Mr Speaker – it will never be the same again. I will say it in Afrikaans. Ek weet nie of van die Afrikaans-sprekendes dit weet nie. Hulle sê, die oumense sê: “Jou voete kan nie ruik nie”. Wat dit beteken is “jou voete lei jou waar jy nie weet waar jy môre gaan wees nie, maar jou voete lei jou iewers heen”. So, as jou voete kon ruik, dan sou dit vir jou gesê het: “I am not going into that direction”. You never know where God is leading you to. So, to everyone here, the full complement of this team, after the first of November we will be friends again and after the 1st of November we will all still be Garden Routers, regardless of what happens after 1 November. Fortunately for me, God willing, I will come back. I might not come back as the Executive Mayor, but I will come back as a Councillor. So, still be nice to me, because I will come back. Remember the reason why I am saying this. I had a discussion with Alderman De Vries at one stage many years back, because I know tonight we are going to have our own makietie as well. So we are going to meet up here again. The reason, why I am saying that we should still be nice to each other tonight, is because we don’t know what is going to happen after the 1st of November. We had a discussion with Alderman De Vries in Knysna at an occasion, the one politician kicked the Municipal Manager back then, so we do not want that to happen tonight, certainly not to me, but these things happen. Alderman Van der Hoven might also have received that report many years ago about somebody who kicked the Municipal Manager.
Colleagues, I will miss those who are not coming back, those of you who are going into retirement. What I also learned is that what we need to do, is certainly something that I always press the button on, is that those with more experience than myself and those who have been there, done that, please keep your phones on. I will still call you.
I thank you very much.
The Council meeting will be live streamed on the municipality’s official YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UC66RBZT0_U2_L4-zSn7yXJQ