The Democratic Alliance (DA) is going all out to reclaim its spot at the helm in the Oudtshoorn Municipality in the Little Karoo. The party was removed from power by opposition parties in September.
The DA’s coalition partner, the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA), joined the African National Congress (ANC) and removed the DA mayor and speaker after a motion of no confidence.
The municipality has faced a lot of issues in the past, including being put under administration, bankruptcy, and allegations of corruption and maladministration.
With just weeks to go before the local government elections, the ANC and ICOSA in Oudtshoorn staged a council coup. With only two seats, ICOSA is considered a small party but packs a big punch in this region. They also co-govern the neighbouring Kannaland municipality with the ANC and have several seats in councils in the Garden Route. ICOSA Western Cape leader, Dawid Kamfer, says they want to take care of the people.
“Before the elections, three, four months before, we ask them to listen, what do you want? They gave us ten points, we took all the points, we put it together and say that is what the community wants. And then after the elections, when we are successful and I know we will in the 2021 elections, we’ll do what the people tell us to do.”
Oudtshoorn’s former DA Mayor, Chris Macpherson, says the ANC and ICOSA’s victory will be short-lived.
“The illegal actions that we’ve experienced the last few weeks performed by the ANC and their cohorts by ignoring judges’ decisions and taking illegal actions will definitely have an impact on 1 November when voters cast their ballot. I believe that the people are tired of sitting with a government that ignores these illegal actions and the way in which they perform.”
Oudtshoorn, like other Little Karoo towns, is one of the poorest rural areas in the Western Cape. With mostly farmland, other job prospects are scarce.
Residents, such as Adam Beyers, say they’ve grown tired of empty promises from politicians.
“We don’t have a better party. I said I’m not going to vote until it’s better here in the future. We need to get better parties that will take over that will deliver and look after us.”
Twenty minutes away from Oudtshoorn lies the dusty village of Dysellsdorp.
People here believe they’ve been forgotten by the Oudtshoorn Municipality for much too long. After 30 years, the first batch of RDP houses are being built. A resident, John Titus, says the councillors don’t care about them.
“They took the houses that were supposed to be built here 10 years ago to De Rust. The councillors here, we put them here in the positions, and whenever they are there they forget about their people. That’s what’s happening here.”
But a community leader and the head of a local NGO believes that changes are coming. For 30 years Leon Campher has been assisting residents and farmworkers. He says he has now thrown his hat into the political ring, as a candidate for the Advieskantoor.
“I did a lot of things while not being a councillor. Actually, I did more than a councillor. Dysselsdorp has got two wards while there’s 13 wards in Oudtshoorn. From these 13 wards, it seems that Dysselsdorp belongs to one of the farmers because so little services come this side that you can believe that this place belongs to someone else. Because if you got a budget for 13 wards, why the budget does not come out to wards 9 and 10? That’s why I’m going there just to get what belongs to this community of Dysselsdorp.
The ANC leadership in Oudtshoorn will have to work hard this election to regain voter confidence.
The last time they headed the council outright was in the 2011 local government elections. Since then, they’ve also lost several wards in by-elections.
Steenhuisen leads anti-corruption picket in Nelson Mandela Bay
Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen is leading an anti-corruption picket in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The picket follows the Public Protector’s report, implicating Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela, and the provincial ANC in funds siphoned from the Mbizana local municipality, now called Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality. The funds were meant for the memorial service of political stalwart Madikizela-Mandela in 2018.