Executive Mayor’s Speech – GRDM Council Meeting on 22 June 2021
Thank you, Speaker, and thank you to all Councillors, colleagues and those listening to me via our Zoom platform.
May I please propose that we first start with the issuing of the long service award and afterwards continue with the business of the day? Today, we are very fortunate to hand over this award. I don’t know how our staff manages to do this. However, today, our colleague, Mr Nicolas Oosthuizen, has finished 40 years of service at this municipality. This is indeed a lifetime, and I think I might have still been in my diapers when Mr Oosthuizen started working here.
Mr Speaker, this handover is making us proud because there’s a belief that the longer staff remains within an institution, it is a sign that they are enjoying what they’re doing. It also indicates that Management is good. Of course, we know that the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is not the perfect institution, but this is indeed an institution of knowledge with staff like Mr Oosthuizen.
Mr Speaker and colleagues, today is also another milestone for Council, as this is our last meeting for the financial year, and we’ve reached this point under very prying and challenging circumstances. However, today, I can proudly announce that this municipality is in a good financial state, and administratively and politically in good hands in terms of cooperation and how we do things jointly, regardless of our different political parties – we have worked as a unit.
As you all know that every year during the month of June, we commemorate the devastating Knysna/Plettenberg Bay fires and all other fires that follow that. We do not want to go back in terms of all the bad memories, the lives we’ve lost, property damaged, and everything that went with that historic fire, but we do have to reflect and had the commemoration event a couple of weeks ago.
Currently, our firefighters are out there, fighting wildfires, which could be similar or even worse than these fires. However, we want to acknowledge all efforts by the different municipalities and firefighters dealing with these matters.
We also want to recognise the communities for playing a crucial part in donating whatever assistance to the firefighters. There has been an announcement on Eden FM this morning regarding drop-off points for donations such as energy bars, drinks, etc. A special word of gratitude to the community members with the necessary fire training, who volunteer and thus assisting our firefighters in fighting fires. We want to call for people to be vigilant and careful with anything that can course a fire.
When speaking about lives that changed forever, we as the Garden Route District Municipality have recently joined efforts to contribute to the Walk-A-Child to School campaign in partnership with Eden FM, Vodacom and the George Museum, a project of donating school shoes to vulnerable kids in our region. We have almost reached the due date, and I would like to urge and remind those who have forgotten about this or who have budged to buy some shoes to please do so before the end of this month. As we lead by example, I want to thank the Garden Route District Municipality’s professional staff who has already donated shoes to this cause. We are all looking forward to seeing more donations come in as salaries are paid at the end of this week. May God bless those who because the Word of God says that “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and that is exactly what I want to speak over the lives of those who are part of this project.
A few months ago, I announced in Council that we are busy upgrading our resorts, particularly the Calitzdorp Spa. We are now in the final part of phase one, whereby the roofs of the bigger buildings at our Resort are being replaced. I am as excited as I see some pictures of the turnaround and the new facelift of the Resort. Today, I want to give a particular word of thanks to the Municipal Manager and his officials who are playing a special role in these upgrades. I am impressed with what I’m seeing, and I plan to visit the Resort tomorrow to feel it. What I see is indeed a remarkable turnaround. Hopefully, it will go with a higher occupancy in the future. These kinds of things attract people. The more beautiful and comfortable a resort is, the more people it will attract.
As I keep on referring back to what we said in the past, this is an indication that we do not just talk, but we walk the talk as the Garden Route District Municipality. A couple of months ago, I announced that 19 students were enrolled as part of the Cater Care Hospitality project. It has come to my attention that on 10 June 2021, Alderlady Wolmarans and GRDM Officials witnessed these students graduation. I was also informed that the hospitality industry, hotel schools, and restaurants have already shown an interest in many students. Once again, Speaker, this is a small part of the puzzle of us wanting to become a Skills Mecca. We are building all these skills required to make this happen, so Skills Mecca is definitely on its way. Yes, it will take some time, but we see the signs of starting small steps that will finish this marathon. I want to congratulate all the students.
We are in the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic to the people of the Garden Route District. We must guide ourselves against covid-19 fatigue and still need to adhere to all the protocols at hand by being constantly careful to curb the spread of the virus. I am proud to say that again, as a District Municipality, we are leading by example by still using our zoom platforms for meetings and keeping our social distances in the Council Chambers.
Lastly, Mr Speaker, people might not understand this, but it is incumbent upon us as leaders, whether political or religious, being in an election year to encourage people, especially our youth, to go and register. Our youth is not registered, and this is a plea to the youth to go and register, so that you can go and raise your voice, represent your interest and become part of tomorrow’s decisions.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.