Overstrand Municipality officially inaugurated Ald Dudley Coetzee as its new Executive Mayor on Wednesday, 28 February 2018. Coetzee pledged his commitment to serving the Overstrand to loud applause and a standing ovation after the inaugural ceremony during the Council meeting. Addressing members of the Provincial Legislature, dignitaries and members of the public, Mayor Coetzee said his journey into active politics and public office started in 2009 when he was asked by a committee member of the Gansbaai Branch of the DA if he would be prepared to make himself available as a candidate for a PR councillor position that had become vacant in the Overstrand Council. “I immediately said no. This person, who is here today, then said that if Christians are not prepared to stand for public office we should not question when our Christian principles and values are no longer observed. So it was that I made myself available as a candidate in the 2011 Local Government Election and the rest, as they say, is history,” Mayor Coetzee said.
He continued by saying he is fortunate to take over as the Executive Mayor of a well-run municipality that stands on the firm foundation established by strong leaders who have preceded him. He paid tribute to the late Theo Beyleveld, Nicolette Botha-Guthrie and most recently the late Rudolph Smith - who, incidentally, was the person appointed to Council into that 2009 vacancy. “I take over as the Mayor of a Municipality that is financially sound and sustainable as per the latest audit outcome from the Auditor General, and one that delivers a high standard of basic services, water reticulation, refuse removal and disposal, sewerage removal and treatment, electricity distribution and municipal road maintenance."
“We need only speak to the many visitors to our beautiful area who come from other parts of South Africa to realise just how high the standard of service is that we have set for ourselves,” he enthused.
His primary goal will be to ensure that the Municipality remains financially viable and that it continues to provide a high standard of basic services to all residents and visitors, that is affordable. “But equally important will be the social upliftment of our poor and disadvantaged communities,” he stated.
He added that “to accomplish this we must grow our economy by creating an environment in which people who have innovative ideas can put them into practice and thereby enabling the creation of jobs for our residents, because we can only instil dignity in a person if they are able to earn a living and so support their family. We need to ensure that we continue to provide clean, accountable and responsible local government as it is under such a government that people wish to invest".
In addition, Mayor Coetzee said, “we must also ensure that the people who are employed in the jobs that are created by the investors in the Overstrand are able to afford to purchase houses for their families to live in and that in turn we have a plan to make houses available in the affordable market, ranging from about R350 000 to R1 000 000 which would cater for people earning between R8000 and R20 000 per month.
“Tourism is our main income generator and the main source of job creation in the Overstrand.
“We need to ensure that we revise our regulations and reduce the amount of red tape that makes it difficult for investors wanting to establish their businesses in the Overstrand.
“We must become more investment friendly because without investment which drives our economic growth we are doomed,” he emphasised.
According to the Mayor, “water is also a scarce resource that we have to manage carefully going forward. We have been fortunate, that while we received less rain in 2017 than we did in the preceding two years, we did not suffer the drought experienced by other parts of the Western Cape, particularly the greater Cape Town water catchment area. The drought in Cape Town, following three dry winters is calculated to be a 1:400 year drought.
“The chance of a fourth dry winter in a row is calculated as being more than a 1:1200 year drought. However, because of the effects of climate change, Climatologists and Meteorologists have said that they are no longer able to forecast our rainfall as their models no longer work.
“The cold fronts that come up from the South Pole and then move east over the section of the Western Cape that has traditionally experienced winter rain and a Mediterranean climate now turn east further south, the edge of the cold front clipping the Overstrand and Agulhas area before moving up the east coast.
“Should these cold fronts move further south we will end up in a similar situation to Cape Town.
“We have to consider ways to further augment our water supplies and will have to start re-treating our waste water. Not necessarily to drinking water standards, but at least to a standard where we can use it to replace potable water that is not used for drinking. We can no longer afford to flush drinking water down the toilet or use it to mix concrete or water sports fields and gardens.
“We must train people to invest in the use of grey water in our homes and we must build water efficiency into our planning approval. We must encourage the use of taps that aerate water used for washing of hands and vegetables. The next time you visit our Mall go and wash your hands in one of the bathrooms to experience for yourselves how these taps operate.
“We also need to channel our rain water run-off so that it recharges our aquifers and does not simply run into the sea,” the Mayor added.
In a letter to the Editor of a local newspaper that was published earlier this week the writer asked, “why not put further water restrictions in place instead of levies”. He explained that the Municipality has not introduced restrictive water tariffs yet and with the continued co-operation of the public “we trust that this will not become necessary, but from tomorrow the washing of cars and boats, with the use of a hosepipe will be prohibited in the Hermanus area. During December and January the water consumption in Hermanus decreased by 18% year-on-year and if that can increase to a 20% saving, restrictive tariffs should not be necessary if we receive our normal winter rainfall.”
Mayor Coetzee has requested a meeting with Minister Anton Bredell, the Minister for Local Government and Environmental Affairs in the Western Cape Legislature to reach finality on whose responsibility it is to ensure that baboons remain in the mountains and out of our towns.
He assured the audience that he will not leave that meeting, scheduled for 24 April, until a final decision is reached. “In the event of Overstrand being responsible for baboon control, I have included an amount of R14 000 000 spread over three years in our next budget cycle. I will then meet with Minister Ivan Meyer to discuss the funding of this function,” he added.
The mayor said he was aware of the many challenges facing the Municipality and its people.
Large cuts in grants to local government as well as the 1% increase in VAT announced by the National Minister of Finance in his budget speech will put additional financial pressure on the Municipality as well as our ratepayers. “We are therefore all going to be hard pressed to save and reduce spending where ever we can,” he said.
“In conclusion let me say that I look forward to serving you in the days that lie ahead as part of a dedicated team of politicians and officials.”