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.