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.