Party gains clear majority to take control of troubled municipality
RATEPAYERS, organised business and the residents’ association in the Kouga municipal region have all thrown their weight behind the DA, vowing to work with the new local government. The three sectors said they were looking forward to seeing much-needed development in the area when the DA officially takes over after the first council meeting.
DA members could not contain their excitement as the news came early yesterday that the party had snatched the hotly contested Kouga Municipality from the ANC.
The DA took the municipality with 57.4% of the vote against the ANC’s 40.1%.
The DA now has 17 seats in the council, while the ANC has 12. In the 2011 municipal elections, the ANC won 49% of the vote and the DA 48%.
MP Elza van Lingen, the DA’s Kouga mayoral candidate, was elated with the win.
“It is a victory, not just a win,” she said.
“It is very encouraging that the people of Kouga are trusting us to lead them.”
Van Lingen said the DA retained six of its wards and won two new wards.
The party held on to wards 3,4, 5, 8, 11 and 12, while adding wards 14 and 15.
The ANC had a one-seat majority in the previous council.
The Kouga Municipality is made up of nine towns – Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Oyster Bay, Patensie, Hankey, Loerie and Thornhill – as well as a number of smaller settlements.
Sarah Baartman ANC regional secretary Scara Njadayi confirmed the DA’s win.
Asked what went wrong with their campaign, he said most of their voters did not go to the polls.
“The timing of the election was not in our favour. The weather was also a problem because the voter turnout in our stronghold areas was very low.”
But he conceded it was always going to be a tight race between the ANC and DA.
Njadayi said the ANC would work hard to win back the municipality in the 2021 local government elections.
“However, we are not going to be a mild opposition. We will be disciplined but militant,” he said.
The remaining votes for Kouga were split between the EFF, ACDP, the Freedom Front Plus and an independent councillor.
Meanwhile, Kouga Business Forum chairman Finney Jordaan believes there is a chance for positive change in the municipality with the DA now in charge.
“If the DA implements a similar strategy in Kouga like they did in Cape Town, it will be a good thing going forward … and make Kouga the best place to live and for business,” Jordaan said.
Jeffreys Bay Residents’ Association chairman Vincent McCarthy said the organisation was pleased with the outcome.
“Now we can get things done. This is important to residents now that there is somebody that is going to listen to us,” he said.
McCarthy cautioned the DA to stick to the promises it made during its campaign. “We can now pull the Kouga Municipality up from where it is,” he said.
“It will not happen now – it will take time and people must realise this. [Residents] must work with them [council].”
McCarthy said the region was a big tourist attraction, but that there were things which needed to be sorted out.
Major issues in the municipality included problems with the road infrastructure as well as water and sanitation needs.
“We need more business and tourism must also get involved,” he said.
“If we can get half-way to where the Western Cape is, we will be happy.”
Oyster Bay Ratepayers’ Association chairman Willie du Plessis said: “We are glad there is a change and we look forward to seeing it being implemented.” — Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko and Devon Koen firstname.lastname@example.org