Mixed reactions on Gayton McKenzie’s first year as Central Karoo Mayor

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2022 was a busy year for Patriotic Alliance leader, Gayton McKenzie, as he took over as the Mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality. He promised to bring new life to the region.

McKenzie’s party rallied around him to bring big changes to the region, but his opponents are not convinced of his intentions. The charismatic leader has a few months remaining before he’s set to resign from his post to concentrate on his 2024 presidential campaign.

His election as District Mayor in April last year was seen as a massive win for his party and supporters. He was elected unopposed.

During the 2021 local government elections, the PA gained a significant number of seats. Playing kingmaker in several municipalities, including the Central Karoo.

The region is one of the poorest in the country, agued by service delivery issues, unemployment and poverty.

McKenzie promised sweeping changes, “I’m here to give 100 percent of my salary …will go towards fixing our pools. The mayoral vehicle must be sold and an ambulance bought. I will not claim any fuel.”

McKenzie is adamant that turning the Karoo into the new Dubai is no pipe dream.

“We are trying to build what we think is a new South Africa should look like in central Karoo and the fact that people are saying this and that, they are just looking at faults. The fact remains, the central question, do people get jobs- yes. Are the investors here, yes. Can you see the potholes being fixed? Yes. Are the swimming pools being fixed and the bucket toilets eradicated?” says the Mayor.

A wave of green descended on Beaufort West when McKenzie celebrated his first 100 days in office. Loyal supporters travelled across the country to celebrate.

“Very inspiring and he’s a man of his word. That’s the reason why I support him so much because he has done so many things for the communities,” says a supporter.


However, he has faced some harsh criticism. From his tough stance on illegal foreign nationals, to flouting municipal processes and more recently, reports of shoddy work on the new toilets and raw sewage leaks, the opposition has been quick to point out his flaws.

“We have people from our supply chain who don’t follow the protocols or legislation with regards to supply chain issues. We are in danger of running unsolicited bids, for example, we are buying tar from a properly registered company at the moment,” says the Democratic Alliance’s Schaun Meyers.

While the South African Communist Party(SACP) has questioned McKenzie’s fundraising events, illions have reportedly gone into trust accounts of McKenzie’s lawyers and not municipal bank accounts.

“The issue is, have the proper processes been followed when the fundraiser was held.?The Municipal Financial Management Act with its regulations states that no political office bearer has the authority to raise funds and even open a trust account for those funds. The other thing is the municipality should have a primary account, where the money is deposited and not a separate bank account. So the question is… what happened in that process? Is the money raised for the municipalities?” questions the SACP’s Mawonga Furmen.


Several new businesses which opened in Beaufort West have since also closed down. The SABC contacted the former owners, who declined to comment.

McKenzie says his detractors want to see him fail. He recently announced the construction of a nearly five-billion rand logistics hub in Beaufort West to create jobs for locals.

“It involves cars, it involves trucks and it involves planes. Part of the plan is that there’s going to be an airstrip. So the mines in the Northern Cape, North West don’t need to get their stuff from the harbours. They can bring it to the dry port. It’s going to be one of the busiest,” McKenzie elaborates.

And in spite of opposition to fracking, he fully backs gas exploration in the Karoo.

“We are going to frack. We are going to have uranium mining. We’re not going to have all that nonsense they said we couldn’t do. Where the greenies come to us and say you can’t do this, but they’re sleeping with food in their stomach,” quipped McKenzie.

McKenzie’s reign has not been without controversy. He has aligned himself with another controversial figure in the Central Karoo – the former mayor of Beaufort West, Truman Prince.

Prince was booted out of the ANC before founding the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (Icosa), he is now the provincial chairperson of the PA.

McKenzie has also formed a political alliance with Karoo Democratic Force (KDF) leader, Noel Constable, who is currently facing fraud and corruption charges.

The question remains, will McKenzie keep to his promises to the people of the Central Karoo before he leaves his post in April?

VIDEO: Gayton McKenzie sets eyes on running for president: