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.
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.
Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Ordinary Council Meeting on 30 March 2021
I would like to make use of this opportunity to officially welcome Cllr Barker. Cllr Barker, I echo what my fellow Councillors have uttered. We are indeed a team and you are more than welcome to form part of this team; it is also correct that we work together and do not pull rank. This means in essence that every Councillor’s voice is equally important.
Mr Speaker – I would like to remind all Garden Routers, Western Cape communities and South Africans to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols that are in place. I do sense that there is still COVID-19 fatigue and that we are not witnessing now what we witness at the beginning of the pandemic when people were more careful. I would therefore like to emphasise that with the Easter weekend being upon us, I do not have to expand in details about the risks associated with it, for instance issues associated with big congregations and the spread of the virus. It remains our plea as political leaders that we need to still exercise extreme caution – stick to the regulations and try their best to keep their social distancing. For that matter, between as Garden Route District Municipality, the South African Local Government Association and the United Nations, a couple of weeks ago we distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all municipalities in the Garden Route to signify that COVID-19 is still with us. Mr Speaker, we are concerned that the roll-out of the vaccine is not being done as quickly as all of us expected, but those high up who have such decision making powers and control, are dealing with that issue.
I am also extremely excited that there is a lot that Garden Route District Municipality is doing to deal with job losses because of COVID-19 and the hard lockdown. Unexpected consequences are still being faced by many of us. It is for this reason that we are on a drive to equip the youth. I have noted correspondence that some of our NQF learners are graduating soon. Some of them will be placed and others will be assisted to ensure that the training we arranged does not go to waste. Also, at the same time, there is a new intake of learners for 6 months. My plea on behalf of the GRDM Council is that we must track their progress and trace their journey to ensure that none of the skills that have been invested in them goes to waste.
Mr Speaker, a couple of weeks ago, we as this council approved funding for boreholes to be drilled in the Kannaland region, between Oudtshoorn and Calitzdorp. In terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act, it is required for us to follow the money. Wherever funds are spend we must do follow-ups that this has been done in accordance to what we agreed upon. Yesterday I was joined by a few Senior officials to go and look at the progress made so far in terms of the boreholes. We witnessed a lot of excitement while discussing the project with stakeholders because a significant amount of water has been found. We know that water is life. This is probably the biggest and most important thing that farmers want. Farmers need water and the rest they will roll out themselves. This has what has transpired during this exercise. The Geohydrologists have created three boreholes and they are still on the site to ensure that fractures are not abused because the preliminary study is outcomes is now awaited. Our Council will see more reports about the progress made at the site on a regular basis, because this is an investment into change that we all need to see, funded by the with the taxpayer. I must however say, after it came to my attention yesterday…Mr Speaker and Council, because farmers have discovered water, and also because of consecutive years of drought faced by these farmers, they are anticipating what will be happening next. What I’ve learned yesterday is that some farmers have started to prepare their land because water would be coming. They asked us to intervene because the Department of Environmental Affairs stopped some of the farmers to prepare their land. This is because if a farmer does not use his or her land for 10 consecutive years, they are delayed because of red-tape to cultivate their land. Mr Speaker, this is mind-boggling to me and I am not sure what to do about this. It is something we have to investigate as a District Municipality and to subsequently approach the relevant provincial and national departments to address this. It does not make sense. A farmer prepares land because there is a possibility of worker – many cannot work their land if they know that there is persistent drought expected.
Mr Speaker, I will keep Council up to date about how we will deal with the situation going forward.
I thank you.
Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council Meeting on 23 February 2021
Mr Speaker, you’ve alluded to the fact that we lost one of our members and it is so profound that it is written in the Scriptures that there will be a time to come and there will be a time to go. We are not immune to this as a Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM). We have lost quite a few of our members, political colleagues, staff members and many of us have lost loved ones. Indeed it will never ever be the same here for us again and we will always look back at this period in history and remember the people that we lost due to various circumstances.
What I do want to highlight is that on behalf of Council, our condolences have gone out to the Saayman family – we have engaged with them. I want to announce that this is the first official meeting where Cllr Saayman will not be present again. Also, this coming Thursday it will be the late Cllr Saayman’s memorial service. Communication will go out to everyone and also to the rest of the people in the Garden Route who would like to join the memorial service of our late Cllr Saayman.
Mr Speaker I would also like to welcome our adopted staff members from the Human Settlements Department in the Western Cape who are now stationed with us. Ms Shehaam Sims and Mr Joel Mkunqwana – I would like to welcome you both. I know that they are already rock stars. Following last week’s press conference, my phone has already rang off the hook – probably theirs as well. In terms of the new breakthrough we have made as the Garden Route, it is obvious that we have been very busy behind the scenes until it was made public last Friday of what we were busy with.
Ourselves together with the Minister for Human Settlements, MEC Tertuis Simmers and his staff, who I have mentioned before, formed part of the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). Mr Speaker, as I was saying, our telephones have been non-stop ringing which is a key indication that we have already stepped into a gap where people want information. We are very excited of what might lie ahead in terms of our engagements with the Western Cape Government Human Settlements Department. We can’t wait to showcase to the rest of the Western Cape and South Africa how cooperation between district municipalities and local municipalities can benefit everyone.
We’re not going to pretend that there are not serious questions emanating from this historic event. We’re not going to get tired to explain to people how it will work and we will engage with the local municipalities to resolve any uncertainties. However, I do need to reiterate that we are not planning to take away the role or mandate of local municipalities we are partnering with, because we want to make sure that everyone benefits. In particular, I refer here to those who want to be beneficiaries in the human settlements space – we want everyone to benefit regardless of their status in life.
On the very same Friday last week, we, as the GRDM also official opened the Garden Route Food Pantry. This is something that was debated about for quite some time. This initiative was triggered by the after-effects and unintended consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Speaker this is a wonderful R1.3 million that spans over a period of three years, but knowing the value of the Rand, it might fluctuate from time-to-time. In addition, there are ongoing discussions that the purpose is to feed the needy and to make sure that there is dignity in each and every household in the Garden Route. More importantly, to make sure nobody goes to bed without not having had a meal. Again, I’m reinforcing what I’ve said I the presence of all other Mayors, this is to compliment what is happening at a local level. We are aware that there are soup kitchens and homes where people feed communities from their own kitchens. This intervention is to complement what they’re doing. Even bigger, if there is a need, we can distribute supplies from this food pantry to them as well.
Mr Speaker, we are busy dealing with the contributions as well. We are busy finalising all the nitty gritty details regarding the financial model of this. There is already a model where each and every municipality we have to contribute. They are dealing with that within their own jurisdictions. We’re contributing as a district municipality.
Mr Speaker I want to highlight – no good deed should go unnoticed. I did not get permission to do this, but because it is something that presents a significant impact, we would really like to say to Mr John Lombard that we really appreciate his contribution of thousands of Rands to the Garden Route Food Pantry. He’s been leading by example. Mr Lombard, on behalf of the GRDM, all the local municipalities and all the residents of the Garden Route, we really acknowledge and salute you – you’re setting the tone and we will definitely follow suit. Also, Mr Speaker, I want to put a challenge to all the Councillors and officials – charity begins at home. We need to lead by example, I am putting out this challenge to all of us that there is also a part that is linked to this project where anyone can buy a brick for R100.00 per month. A person can either sign a debit order or a stop order or pay it in person. I want everyone to sign up for at least one year. Individuals can write their names against a brick inside the Food Pantry building. If it is more than R100, a person can write details on more bricks. So, in essence, a person can write their own name, their family, children etc. A person can start their own dynasty there where a person can have ten (10) “Stratu” bricks for example. That would be an indication that we do support his and that it is a combined effort that we support this cause. If we can do it, if Mr Lombard can do it, if municipal employees can do it, especially the Councillors of the Garden Route – we should all follow suite.
What is also very exciting to me, again, is something coming on for months and years. It is the issue where Inter-governmentally everyone always disputes property ownership amongst their partners in all three spheres of government. There is always that dispute where we own pockets of land and some municipalities feel that such land belongs to them. This is not a battle that we want to get involved in, instead, in that space we want to form partnerships. Mr Speaker, today is going to be another historic signing between the Garden Route District Municipality and Mossel Bay Municipality where we will go and sign mutual agreements between the two municipalities in terms of us transferring properties to them and they transferring properties to us. Some of the properties will be utilised in a way where we will jointly develop these properties for a better Garden Route as a district. I would like to encourage all municipalities who have this in the back of their minds that they are gearing themselves to fight the Garden Route. We will come to you, negotiate and ensure that it is a win-win situation.
You know, no matter what we’re going through as a country, all our problems and difficulties that we are experiencing as a district and a country. One thing I’ve learned is that one of the solutions is the education of our youth. Last night we listened to the announcement of the results of the 2020 Matriculants. I want to congratulate those who have made it on behalf of the Garden Route. I would also like to say to those who have not made it – it is not the end of the world. Regard it as an opportunity. Go and re-write, there is always room for improvement. We also want to thank you to the parents who have endured for long hours as well. They’ve endured long hours, in some instances during loadshedding. They’ve really pulled through – congratulations to everybody. So, once again, even though someone did not pass, I encourage those to go back and re-write so that there is a better future for everyone.
I thank you.
COMMUNICATIONS BY THE EXECUTIVE MAYOR, CLLR MEMORY BOOYSEN, DURING THE 20TH COUNCIL MEETING OF GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITY HELD ON 25 FEBRUARY 2020 IN GEORGE
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Before I start with my formal speech, I would like you to allow me to present a long-service award here. I don’t know how people have managed to do this, but me, I’ve never worked for more than 5 years at a place. I’m going to complete another 5 years next year and I’m going to move on again. What’s amazing is that some people just stick it out. Some might even stick it out because there is no alternative. I’m fully aware before I call this person to the front, that he stuck it out because of the atmosphere in this place. I think we’re going from strength-to-strength and people are really living it up.
The following gentleman worked here for 34 years – started off as a handy man and ended up at head office. I have also read the reasons why he’s going to retire this year – even those reasons make perfect sense.
Mr Speaker, I must say there are a lot of spiritual Councillors amongst us. I must confess that something is happening spiritually within the Garden Route District Municipality. Just today, this is probably the 3rd spiritual message (referring to a spiritual message by Mercy James, Integrated Development Officer at GRDM), I’ve received two earlier too today – they are all intertwined and all point to the same thing – the District is going from strength-to-strength – we are indeed a sleeping giant.
In Afrikaans they say: “jy kry die wind van agter” – I believe we’re getting the wind from behind at Garden Route District Municipality. I’m going to continue to hammer on the good things we do, regardless of the nature of the game that we’re in. We’ve just had a successful launch of our regional waste landfill site, which means we will start doing our thing. I’m also aware Councillors that it’s human nature – there are already people standing in a que about where this thing was approved, where was it advertised, who are going to work at the site? We need to engage these people who are asking these questions. We can’t fold our arms and leave it. We must be aware who is doing what and where. We’ve inherited this waste project – when we were constituted in 2016. We’re just rolling out what we’ve inherited. Now is the time for us to engage with these people and the communities so that we have the same answers.
It also gives me pleasure that we some students graduate at the Francois Ferreira Academy. Without food, you’ll never be a happy man. Seventeen (17) chefs graduated and sponsored by GRDM.
We had a lot of engagements, summits and skills summits. The time has come where we need to list what came out of these engagements – I think we are going to list some of the things that aren’t listed yet, because it has not yet happened but in the pipeline.
Councillors, my office has been approached by a special adviser of Dr Blade Nzimande. They’re planning to build a new Technical College in the Garden Route. They’ve approached us at the district and they want us to engage with them to see how our ideas can be incorporated – once again, I remind you that we had a skills summit. We’re at the beginning where we will be bearing the fruits out of that.
We’ve also been approached (but not agreed to anything on paper), by an international company and this company said they’ve watched us – they love our ideas, thinking and everything we stand for and aim to achieve. They like to invest in this area. They’ve also been to the Premier’s office in Cape Town to inform the Western Cape Provincial Government that they like what they’re doing. They’re going through all our legislation that deals with approval of developments, Environmental Impact Assessments, etc. and they identified a lot of hick-ups that would hamper investments. Because of these hick-ups, they’ve asked if GRDM can accompany them to the Union building to see the President and all his Ministers. If I can go and sell what we’re trying to achieve here – I need to go. It indicates again and again that our potential has been recognised. We must grab these opportunities.
Apart from all of that – again, we’ll be recognised by the United Nations. We’re currently hosting the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).
We’re also known for our way in which we deal with climate-related disasters, including health epidemics. Our team is ready – they’re dealing behind the scene in case there’s any incidence of Corona breaking out in our region.
So Mr Speaker, I’m chuffed – I want to say to everybody here I am chuffed to be the Mayor of GRDM. Spiritually all the signs are there. On that note, I want to say: Councillors please continue what you’re doing, continue debating in a constructive way. I thank you.
My apologies. Let me add on and put more meat to the bone. Councillors, you’ll remember earlier this year or starting late last year, I started using a new term. The buzzword – district model. I said the time will come where I will have to go to the union building to find out what this model is all about and what is expected of District Municipalities. It so happens that we’re the only district in the whole of the Western Cape that have been approved to be a district to pilot this model from a national and provincial perspective. Ladies and gentlemen we need to give ourselves an applause for that because it says a lot. I’m going to need your back-up.
If the things we face are greater and more important than the things we refuse to face, then at least we have begun the re-evaluation of our world. At least we have begun to learn to see and live again. But if we refuse to face any of our awkward and deepest truths, then sooner or later, we are going to have to become deaf and blind. And then, eventually, we are going to have to silence our dreams, and the dreams of others. In other words, we die. We die in life. (Ben Okri, 1997)
Madam Speaker, Honourable Eleanore Bouw-Spies
Deputy Executive Mayor, Honourable Ruiters
Members of the Mayoral Committee
Honourable Councillors and Leaders of Political Parties Present
Executive Mayors and Representatives from B-Municipalities
Municipal Manager; Mr Monde Stratu and the Executive Management;
Municipal Managers’ and Executive Managers from B-Municipalities
Leaders of Faith-Based Community
Leaders of Business Organisations;
Various stakeholders and the people of Garden Route District
Today, I stand before you, as a humble servant of the people of Garden Route, to deliver this inaugural state of the District Address, which will clearly reflect on our current programmes and plans going forward. One amongst us reminded me, that this day marks 955 days for this Council in office. In our magnificent diversity as this council, and despite our differences, we resolved to advance the values of our Constitution and to once again place at the center our district agenda of the poor, unemployed, marginalised and address inequalities.
Madam Speaker, the President of the Republic of South Africa, proclaimed 8 May 2019, as the date in which the country will hold its sixth (6th) national elections. As we count down, the elections will exactly be 26 days from this day, and we must be reminded of the millions of people that waited hours in long queues to cast their votes in a democratic South Africa in 1994. Accordingly, we dare not take for granted our right to vote. In our country, 17 million of those eligible to vote are young people. However, only 8 million of these have registered to vote. We need to collectively encourage our people to vote on 8 May 2019.
As we gather here this evening, we are all well aware that today the District of Garden Route is blessed with tremendous progress. Moreover, because of that I am proud to share that the state of the District is strong and getting stronger. Over the years, our district has undergone major changes, especially in the administration. We have reconfigured our organisational structure to meet the changing circumstance and to address the demand.
We have also improved our Inter-governmental Relations Structures a platform aimed at promoting and embedding good governance with full participation of B-Municipalities and Sector Departments operating in our space. This has assisted in building sound relationships and a united district.
Madam Speaker, our population has grown to 635 600 (2019) estimated to 679 213 (2024), the built environment of our district has changed profoundly, as the result of access to basic services as from 2016. The population is expected to grow in our region at a rapid pace – research done by South African Cities Network reveals that 63% of the current population in South Africa reside in urban areas, this will rise to 71% by 2030. By 2050, 8 in 10 South Africans will live in urban areas. This places increasing demand on basic infrastructure requirements.
Despite the challenges we may be confronted with in the near future, there has been remarkable improvement in the level of service delivery in our region.
- ACCESS TO WATER: households with access to piped water inside the dwelling or yard or within 200meters from yard is at 96.9%
- ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY: households with access to electricity as primary source of energy for lighting purposes is 96.1%
- ACCESS TO SANITATION: households with access to flush toilet connected to sewerage system is 94.3%
- ACCESS TO REFUSE REMOVAL: is 88.8%
- ACCESS TO FORMAL DWELLING: is 85.7%
Madam Speaker, these qualitative changes in the lives of the people of Garden Route represent a towering monument of progress during the twenty-five years of our democracy.
Working together with all sectors of the population of our district, we must do everything in our power to ensure that this progress is consolidated and all enjoy the opportunities.
Given all the achievements as indicated, in the humankind it is the law of life that every achievement is accompanied by its challenges.
Our district is confronted by perpetual dependency ratio which has grown to 56, 1%, with a proportion of poor people below poverty lines within the district standing at 40, 5%.
We are also confronted by the three-(3) socio economic risks;
- Risk 1: Slow Economic Growth.
- Risk 2: Increase Population & Demand for Services.
- Risk 3: Rising Unemployment.
Madam Speaker, there is no doubt that our programme to reposition Garden Route District and enhance its relevance has captured the imagination of thousands of people. We are creating an enabling environment for the growth and sustainability of our district.
We always need to ask ourselves three questions and we must begin to answer those questions quiet frank and honest;
- What do we do?
- For whom do we do it?
- How do we excel?
In responding to those three questions, our Council has taken a conscious and clear decision to implement the functions and powers assigned to District Municipalities as embedded in s84 of Local Government Structures Act 117 of 1998. These relates to:
- Potable water supply systems
- Firefighting services servicing the area of the district municipality as a whole
- Bulk supply of electricity (including for the supply, transmission, distribution and generation of electricity)
- Waste Management Services for the area of the district as a whole
- District Roads – in collaboration with the Provincial Government for the benefit of the Garden Route
Consultation is underway with all affected stakeholders. We intend this to be collaborative process; we will not impose ourselves but will work with our partners as equals.
Madam Speaker, allow me to indicate on the financial status of our district municipality, linked to IDP objectives for 2019/20 financial year
- Healthy and Socially Stable Communities; Expenditure R47 Million.
- A skilled Workforce and Community; Expenditure R15 Million.
- Bulk Infrastructure Co-ordination; Expenditure R170 Million.
- Environmental Management and Public Safety; Expenditure R62 Million.
- Good governance; Expenditure R77 Million.
- Financial Viability; Expenditure R24 Million.
- An inclusive District Economy; Expenditure R13 Million.
Our total expenditure for 2019/2020 financial year is estimated at R410 Million, inclusive of capital and operating expenditure.
GRDM is currently operating the Roads function on an agency basis on behalf of the Department of Transport and Public Works. The Roads budget forms the biggest portion of our budget.
INVESTMENT AND PROPERTIES
Madam Speaker, we will also leverage on municipal assets through property development towards economic growth and sustainability of our district. Resolutely on March 2018, we hosted a two (2) day Garden Route Investment Conference themed “Creating Opportunity in Global Uncertainty”, which involved domestic and international investors in an effort to attract investment and positioning the Garden Route region as the investment option outside Cape Town.
In looking further at the journey we want to traverse, it would be naïve of us not seek for investment opportunities to stimulate the economy of this region. We did this as Garden Route District Municipality! Before the President of the Republic of South Africa announced this summit for the Country. We were indeed pro-active on our efforts. This platform was not intended to benefit GRDM but it was a concerted draw-card for B-Municipalities to outline their investment propositions to various investors.
I can safely report that there is positive commitment to invest in this region. Last year we signed a couple memoranda of agreements with different companies local and others with massive international footprint. Collectively bringing a total investment of over R2billion in the GRDM region.
I am quite certain that you have witnessed the turn-around strategies that we have implemented on our properties in various print media platforms. Negotiations for a long-term lease agreement are close to completion with Len24 GmBH (a company that originated in Germany) and Ithuba Credit Corporation (a company that originated in USA) on the management, operation, and renovations of Calitzdorp Spa and De Hoek Mountain Resort.
The lease agreement is the cornerstone of a key social-entrepreneurial venture, which will have an immense socio/economic and environmental impact on the region. The lease will attract a multi-million rand investment into the local economy, boosting job creation and reducing unemployment, investment in relevant and quality skills development, and investment in green technology at the resorts.
We are focusing our attention on programmes on the key parts of the economy that are labour intensive. These include Agriculture and Tourism.
The potential of agriculture in our region for job creation and economic growth remains largely underdeveloped. Our region has large areas of unproductive land or land laying-fallow.
To this end, our focus on properties is not merely influenced by investment drive. In our effort to grow the economy of the region particularly focus on SME’s development, and empowering previously disadvantage SME’s Council has taken a decision of availing vacant land for economic development initiatives. An MOU with the Department of Agriculture is being finalised for the development of emerging farmers. We have already leased land to black farmers for Aquaponics farming in Glentana and Western Cape Honey-bush Tea near Oudtshoorn.
Agricultural exports are an important source of revenue for our economy, and developing our agricultural sector is key to enhancing our food security and for attracting investment.
It is for this reason that we launched an SME Export Development programme as resolved by the 2018 GRDM Investment conference, which entails one-one-one assessments of SME’s with products that are ready for the export market and also serve an incubation centre focusing on logistics and market access. An MOU with SEDA has been signed and funding will be availed for SME’s to partake in this programme.
Our efforts of marketing the region as a prime destination of choice is gradually yielding results. This is a result of the sound and impeccable relationships that have been established by the GRDM with Local Tourism Organisations (LTO) and [the] Private Sector. Our team is currently attending as Garden Route and Klein Karoo the World Travel Market in Cape Town. We are also planning to attend the Tourism Indaba in Durban, Gauteng Gateway and next financial year, for the first time, attend the Namibian Tourism Expo. These platforms enable us to sell the region as a destination.
We will deepen the partnership between government and business to realise our vision of increasing the number of tourists to our region.
Our highest priority of enhancing destination marketing was evident in the four (4) events that we financially supported i.e. Herold Meander Saxophone Festival, Ostrich Crawl Festival in Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay Soul Festival and Hessequa Proe Bietjie Festival.
For 2019/20 financial year, Council availed an amount of R130 000 for the development of the Kannaland Tourism Strategy. A draft strategy is now available inclusive of a proposed structure to drive the strategy to be discussed with Kannaland Municipality later this month for final adoption in June 2019.
Madam Speaker the Cater Care project is a skills programme focusing on training the unemployed youth for the hospitality industry to either move on to become an assistant Chef as part of career pathing in the chefs industry and or starting their businesses. Its’ successfully implemented in partnership with the Francios Ferreira Academy for the last 8 years with a zero dropout rate.
Participants also include vulnerable youth such as people living with disabilities. Approximately 200 youth benefited from this programme since inception. We increased the allocation for 2018/19 financial year and we will again implement this programme for 2019/20 budget.
OUR ENVIRONMENT IS THE ECONOMY
Over the past two years, our region has been under siege by wildfires, which ravaged our area. These fires did not only destroy our vegetation that brought the aestheticism in which our area’s fondly known for, but also destroyed valuable properties of people staying in our region.
Whilst we once again sincerely convey our condolences to all the families that lost their loved ones, we must also extend our profound gratitude to the firefighters that fought these fires. Their efforts will never go unnoticed and they are our ambassadors of goodwill.
Our Spatial Development acknowledges that our Economy is the Environment. Therefore, any rehabilitation and restoration of the natural environment needs priority. As such, we have assisted and motivated for Disaster rehabilitation and Reconstruction funding to the value of R75 million which was approved by National Treasury after the 2017 Knysna fires.
As our area is prone to these disasters, our fire risk assessment project is set to be completed by April 2019. Furthermore, as a District, we recently developed an Invasive Species Monitoring, Control and Eradication Plan, which is a requirement for organs of state to have in terms of National Environmental Management and Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).
GRDM PATH TO A MORE SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE
Madam Speaker, Today I want to share some thoughts about our collective future – in particular, about the challenges we face in developing a secure, more resilient and more sustainable energy system in the Garden Route region. Our planning department is doing a scenario approach to energy as the driver of the local economy. The scenarios cannot predict the future, but they can give us the tools to anticipate what could happen. In other words, they deepen our strategic thinking.
In looking at our future energy challenge and in aligning our functions and mandate as stated in Section 84 of the Municipal Structures Act, we believe three actions be taken now to get us firmly on the road toward a more sustainable energy system:
- First, we need to take advantage of the region’s abundant solar and wind resources;
- Second, we want to support development of renewable energy technology and local manufacturing of components and storage technology to compliment the reliability of renewable energy and this will be coupled with human capacity development more especially youth and women;
- And third, we need to promote smarter urban planning to reduce energy demand, especially in transportation e.g. manufacturing of Electric Vehicles(EV) in the region and conversion of waste to energy
Around the world, we have already seen pragmatic energy policies put in place to prepare for a future in which energy demand will soar. Therefore, as GRDM, we are taking a pro-active role to issues of energy and as such, we are the only District Municipality;
- that held the green energy summit in 2018,
- that launched the Green Energy Forum,
- that is currently developing a comprehensive Energy Master Plan,
- that is currently participating in the Small Systems Embedded Generation (SSEG) programme.
This goes on to show how much the district value and prioritize renewable energy as the future of the region. The country faces an incredible challenge to meet our future energy demand, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and manage the stresses on our water and food resources.
GRDM believe governments and industry can take far-sighted actions now that will reap benefits for decades to come. These actions include taking advantage of the region’s abundant natural resources, localised manufacturing and storage technology, and focusing on smarter urban planning. The District would also like to leverage some of its properties to support this goal of energy sustainability in the region that will in turn promote socio-economic development. We remain committed to working with all the stakeholders to realise the region’s ambitious energy objectives of energy driven regional economy, energy driven job creation and energy driven livelihoods.
Madam Speaker, as the District we are enthralled by the reports about the Brulpadda block in the Outeniqua Basin, which even the president described as Game Changer. This could well be a game-changer for our region and its benefit will transcend throughout the Country. In unison, we must congratulate Total for this discovery!
We currently working with Transnet Ports Authority, PetroSA, ACSA-George and Mossel Bay packaging an application for this region to be considered as the next Special Economic Zone. We concluded a very successful meeting with Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI) which advises the Minister on such applications. I must attest that we have received positive response from the Department.
Honourable Councillors, we have reported in Council that plans are afoot to construct the regional landfill site. This is a project, which has been on the pipeline for the last 10years. In July 2019, the contractor will be on site.
The Regional Waste Management Facility preliminary prediction – job opportunities: 150 temporal and 30 permanent jobs but will escalate, as the project is expanded.
These include small local business development and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment opportunities resulting from potential implementation of Alternative Waste Management Technologies and waste minimisation processes;
- Waste-to-Energy Facilities.
- Producing Bio Gas to PetroSA.
- Producing steam to Industry.
- Producing electricity directly to the national grid.
This facility strategically positioned to assist with the processing / management of domestic and hazardous waste originating from the planned Brulpadda project of Total.
EMPOWERMENT OF YOUTH AND WOMEN
Madam Speaker, the fight to empower youth and women must be taken to the mainstream economy so that it reflects the diverse character of our district.
This year, 2019, marked the beginning of a prosperous year for approximately 120 young people from the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay municipal areas, as they benefited from the Garden Route Municipal Training Programmes, which included First Aid Level 3 Training; Driver’s License Training and Law Enforcement Training.
These training programmes originated from the Garden Route Rebuild Initiative (GRRI), established after devastating fires that hit the district (Knysna/Plettenberg Bay) in June 2017, and the need for a District Skills Mecca was identified.
The Training Programmes are funded by the GRDM, managed through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The project’s primary focus is on youth development in the Garden Route, building capacity among young people; breaking the chain of unemployment and ensuring a marketable labour force in the region.
Madam Speaker, during 2016/17 we have offered 140 job opportunities through EPWP. During 2017/18, we have offered 480 and 2018/19 we have currently offered 349.
We have transitioned young man and woman to the driving school program, which is underway currently; we have enrolled 23 young woman out of 26 young people.
Madam Speaker, We are also offering the opportunity for interns to gain experience through a Municipal Graduate Internship Programme.
We are also giving study bursaries to the youth of our district, through my office.
Investing in people is the most decisive act of national development. It is through education that we can unleash creativity and cultivate the spirit of resilience among citizens.
BUILDING A COHESIVE REGION
Lastly, Madam Speaker, you will recall that we have adopted a Concept Note for Garden Route Cultural and Sporting events, which entailed signature events for the district municipality. In the previous DCF and MMF meeting in Knysna the MM shared these planned events with all the Executive Mayors and Municipal Managers.
The purpose of the GRDM Cultural and Sporting Events not only underpinned by the economic dividends of these events but to address a number of social ills currently predominant in our society and to build a more cohesive region. We are building values-based initiatives to engender social cohesion and societal renewal. The National Development Plan in its diagnostic assessment of South Africa, revealed that the country is largely divided on so many levels, to such an extent that there is a need to create and develop a number of social cohesive programmes with pragmatic solutions to this diagnosis. The concept note entails a number of proposed signature events for the region, which will envisage that it will complement the already existing tourism programme in the region, and will further contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the area. Some of the abstracted events will have national and international footprint and may further spiral into the mainstream economy of the country due to their enormousness
Business Plan on each of these events currently being done and an internal team has been established. In spite of this, for the current year we want to launch and host Garden Route Music and Cultural extravaganza in September 2019. The Garden Route Mayoral Golf Challenge planned for December 2019.
Ladies and Gentleman, the Garden Route Mayoral Golf is conceived as one of the legacy projects of GRDM which will at an international level like SA Open, Presidents Cup, PGA Championships and US Open etc. We will use this tournament to market the region as a whole. This tournament will attract amateurs, as well as, professionals who will participate in the tournament. Golf is widely regarded as a sport that promotes development proceeds of these tournaments will be used on the legacy programmes of the Mayor that aimed at community development.
The cultural event on the other side promotes cultural exchange and bring communities together united in their diversity. Moreover, it is indicated that festivals are emerging as a fast-growing sector of the tourism and leisure industry and can have a significant impact on the host communities.
I would like to thank the Deputy Mayor and Members of the Mayoral Committee for their support. Also special word of gratitude to all the Councillors of the GRDM, especially my colleagues from the opposition for their constructive criticism.
I also thank all seven (7) B-Municipality Executive Mayors for their support and encouragement.
Mr. Monde Stratu leads the GRDM team with unflagging energy. Thank you MM!
The GRDM Senior Management and staff in my office still tolerate me with good grace and endless patience.
Madam speaker I would personally like to thank a very special person present here today and I thank her for coming! She is not only an employee of this municipality or a colleague to others; she became a mother in this institution.
She has been with this institution for 22 years, happily married, Mr. Jacobus de Villiers, blessed with two (2) children and five (5) grandchildren. I can tell you that she inherited more children in GRDM with MM being her first born.
She has worked in Records and Archives, Project Management Unit, Office of the Mayor, at the time of retirement she is the MM’s Personal Assistant. It is indeed emotional to announce that Ms. Erina De Villiers will be retiring on 30 April 2019. She has served this institution with distinction! And we wish her success in her new journey!
I must remind her that life begins at retirement!
In so many ways, we are a district of firsts.
We are the #1 region with two best cities in the country’s top five, the #1 place for young professionals to move, and #1 for quality of living in the country. While economic growth is a priority, we must remain committed to getting our unemployed citizens back to work.
The question is:
Will we sit, satisfied with the progress we have made over the past years, content to let the next chapter in the District’s history simply write itself?
Will we seize this moment; seize the chance to grab hold of our shared destiny –- to chart the course to the new future that we want for the District.
Therefore, the fundamental question we face as a district at this moment is whether we will seize our future!
Will we settle for a district where some are increasingly well off while a large number live nearby in enduring poverty and without opportunity?
Will we forge our future together to develop a diverse economy accessible to all, where we grow the pie for everyone, where everyone does their fair share, and where everyone has a chance to succeed?
Will we embrace the ambition that we are all better off together? And that, my fellow countrymen, is where the vision of One District is absolutely critical.
Well, I am here to say I harbour no illusions of where we are right now. But I am also not afraid to dream of where we can and should be.
Admittedly, “One District” is an aspiration … a dream of what we can be. However, it can also be a practical guide for 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.
And so tonight, I am presenting the ideas on how to seize the future, a call to arms to build the “One District” of our dreams – a district where every resident: Participates in a diverse, thriving economy;
- Lives in a safe neighbourhood, free from crime;
- Is able to send his or her children to a quality public school;
- Has a good quality of life that allows them to prosper as individuals and families;
- Gets a solid return on their investment in their government and high-quality customer service from public servants;
- And where every resident lives in the most environmentally sound, sustainable region in the world.
Our plan for building “One District” focuses on three priorities:
- Creating a new economy for the District that is growing and diversified;
- Ensuring that District residents are prepared for the jobs of the new economy;
- Improving the quality of life for all.
My friends, let’s take advantage of this moment in our district’s history to seize our future, harness change for the better, and build the elusive “One District” that we all dream of.
Let us get to work!
Thank you, and good night.