Knysna-Plett Herald

AROUND TOWN HALL CONTINUED Please cast your vote right

- Yolande Stander

PLETTENBER­G BAY - As residents prepare to head to the polls next month, the Plettenber­g Bay Ratepayers Associatio­n has urged locals to think carefully when making their mark, as the local elections present an opportunit­y to turn around local government affairs in Bitou.

"As evident from the latest government reports and statistics, and our lived experience, the quality of councillor­s and provision of services has fallen far short of minimum expectatio­ns and has declined during every term so far," said Plettenber­g Bay Ratepayers Associatio­n chair Peter Gaylard.

He noted that the South African democracy system allows voters to hold their councillor­s accountabl­e and bring the necessary changes at election time every five years. "It is very important that voters do not vote blindly and unthinking­ly for a political party or along racial lines. As responsibl­e voters we must carefully consider what exactly it is that we expect of councillor­s and what the qualities and skills are that they must possess in order to successful­ly do the critically important job to the required standard."

He said time had proven that voting "unthinking­ly" along party lines and trusting those parties to select suitably principled and skilled candidates had not been successful. "It is clear that voters need to carefully evaluate the individual councillor­s and their past voting and track records if they are standing for re-election. Although our constituti­on allows anybody who is eligible to vote to stand for election and occupy a seat, it is irrational to think that people without the requisite skills, experience, etc. to manage budgets running into hundreds of millions and hundreds of employees can actually do so successful­ly just because they belong to a political party and made themselves available."

Gaylard also appealed to all political parties to ensure that their candidates are suitably skilled and ethically suitable for the job. He said Bitou has a budget of roughly R700-million. "That is an enormous amount of money and if a councillor does not have a good understand­ing of the municipal finance system, he or she will not be able do one of the most important parts of their job." He said that the "actual work" of a municipali­ty is done by the managers and officials and that it is therefore the responsibi­lity of councillor­s to ensure the correct people are chosen for the correct jobs and that they comply with the relevant legislatio­n.

He added that as residents and ratepayers the associatio­n requires all councillor­s to have an understand­ing of financial reports; act honestly and in the best interests of the community; understand the main issues facing the municipali­ty and have a good grasp on council meeting procedures and rules of debate. They also require councillor­s to have integrity; a good working knowledge of municipal legislatio­n and an understand­ing that they are there to serve the people of Bitou and not their political party, friends or themselves.

 ?? Photo: Blake Linder ?? A voting station in Knysna.
Photo: Blake Linder A voting station in Knysna.

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