Ricochet News

Protest delays inauguration at new ECape municipality

AUGUST 19, 2016
Protest delays inauguration at new ECape municipality

Thursday’s maiden council sitting of the newly amalgamated Dr Beyers Naudé Local Municipality in Graaff-Reinet was met with outrage from some residents, who disrupted proceedings in protest against the alleged selection of councillors.

The sitting, which was expected to commence at 10h00, took an unexpected twist when residents, some wearing orange Community Work Programme overalls, began singing struggle songs and dancing inside the Graaff-Reinet City Hall as proceedings were ready to start.

Ignoring interim municipal manager Noel Pietersen’s plea for order, the residents continued undeterred, making insults and demanding they be addressed. RNEWS’ journalist was then subsequently removed from the briefing that followed with the protesters shouting, “Get out, we don’t want the media here”.

Although the exact reason for their grievances remained unknown as none were willing to comment, it is widely-speculated that many were not pleased with the selection of councillors earmarked to be part of the mayoral council.

The sitting eventually took place some three hours later after an agreement had been reached - again no details were provided as the media was allowed to attend - with ANC candidate, Deon de Vos, edging out the DA’s Samantha Jankovich to be elected mayor. The ruling party’s Thembisa Nonnnes was chosen as speaker.

In his opening statement, de Vos, who until his nomination served as the speaker of the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, said government would put the needs of residents first as “we cannot makes promises and forget about them when we enter the [council] chambers”.

“The community must be treated with respect no matter what. It must be important that service to the people are delivered and not just assured. Our people came first… those who treat them as beggars will face the consequences,” de Vos said.

The municipality, which was established earlier this year following the merger of the DA-run Baviaans Local Municipality and the ANC-led Camdeboo and troubled Ikwezi Local Municipalities, fell under the control of the ruling party after the August third local government elections, who took 51.05% of vote compared to the DA’s 46.59% and Economic Freedom Fighters’s 1.74%.