Beaufort-West celebrates service delivery in their municipality under Patriotic Alliance

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Central Karoo District Mayor, Gayton McKenzie, says he plans to root out the rot in Beaufort-West and the rest of the region. McKenzie addressed supporters of his party, the Patriotic Alliance, who gathered in the town as he continues the celebration of his 100 days in office which began on Friday and will go until Sunday.

The mayor who made several promises after taking on the job in April, has tackled service delivery issues as well as revived the local economy with new businesses and investments. In his first 100 days in office, Mayor McKenzie has replaced all bucket toilets with flushing toilets, repaired potholes, refurbished the municipal swimming pool, and opened several new businesses.

He says he is now ready to take on fraud and corruption.

For years, the Beaufort West municipality has faced scrutiny for the siphoning off of millions, allegedly by senior municipal officials. Three of them go on trial for tender fraud later this year, with one of them being McKenzie’s coalition partner from the Karoo Democratic Force.

McKenzie has warned that all those who are part of the rot must get ready to face the music as the municipality plans to launch forensic investigations particularly on its employees.

“The unions and politically-connected people were given posts which they were not even qualified for, and I’m not going to sit here and say everything is right here. I will sit here and say everything is wrong here – hey are interested in capital projects and people will have to answer,” say McKenzie.

The forensic investigations which will be launched will look into the sale of vast tracts of land, massive overtime fraud amongst its employees, and the sale of the Beaufort West Airport. Central

Karoo Municipal Manager, Sithembele Vatala, says the airport is a national key point that benefits the communities of the region and can thus not be sold.

“It’s got infrastructure that benefits the people of the Central Karoo. The selling of the airport was to a person that does not have an interest for the Central Karoo,” exclaimed Vatala.

Despite the area’s woes, McKenzie has managed to breathe new life into one of the country’s poorest regions. Twenty-five new businesses have opened including the town’s first bakery, and there are plans for a private hospital and commercial flights to Beaufort West.

A dividing figure in governance

However, the mayor has faced criticism for his stance on illegal foreign nationals, and more recently, the Democratic Alliance was opposed to him cutting electricity to businesses with municipal arrears.

Explaining his actions, McKenzie says, “We started cutting off electricity and in 3 days we raised something like R5.8 million, and I’m talking about major companies that started to pay. It’s just a culture of ‘let’s do what we want’.”

While some consider the Mayor controversial, his supporters share in his vision.

McKenzie will now be turning his attention to other towns in the Central Karoo such as Prince Albert and Leeu Gamka.