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.