HERMANUS – “There is a tectonic shift taking place in the way we ( Overstrand Municipality) are doing business” is how our still newish Mayor, Dr Annelie Rabie, started the review of her first 100 days in Office on Monday evening in the Hermanus Auditorium. Now if any other Mayor I have ever known had said that I would probably have sniggered and said ja, ja, ja. But this woman is something else. She’s a powerhouse (I would venture that diplomacy is not her strong suit, she’s more a – if you get in my way, I’ll vaporise you – type of girl). She’s not exactly a media person and she has already rubbed me up the wrong way on one or two occasions, but when she says “tectonic shift” you had better start listening. The list of major projects she and her Mayco (Mayoral Committee) are working on is truly impressive and ambitious.
On Monday evening they gave us a glimpse of this new “Overstrand for all” (the Mayor’s new mantra) they are working on. Keep in mind that our new Mayor and her team have only been in office for just over sixty actual working days. Rabie did not discuss any of the projects in detail, but rather gave a brief rundown of what they were working on. One of them is a future smart city in the Overstrand and the first meeting has, I believe, already been had.
The other interesting reference was her vision of the Overstrand becoming the “Riviera of the Western Cape”. She didn’t expand but said the environment was the bedrock of our new spatial development. Expect all kinds of interesting changes in this regard, particularly when it comes to building regulations in environmentally sensitive areas.
Rabie pulled no punches when it came to certain subjects. One of them was the local SAPS station commander. She said the Municipality wanted to increase the region’s law enforcement capacity but that there was an “absence of cooperation” from SAPS. The Hermanus station commander apparently told her during a meeting that “he does not talk to politicians”. Ed: Why do I think she also rubbed him up the wrong way? Can somebody please check if the guy is still here – or has he been vaporised?
Municipal contractor, Veolia also came in for a tongue lashing. Rabie said the company had “lied” to the Municipality about the recent sewerage spillage in Onrus. “It was a spillage,” she said.
The Mayor said there were high levels of what she called “civil intolerance” and that the “abuse” towards her and other municipal officials was “unbelievable.” She reminded people that the present council was democratically elected and that she was the mayor of all the citizens in the Overstrand. Some people, she said will simply never accept your answers.
At the meeting, Rabie announced that the Municipality and the Province had signed a formal agreement on Schulphoek in Hermanus on Friday. In simple terms, the agreement means that Schulphoek is now out of the hands of the Municipality and becomes the problem of the Province.
Another issue she touched on was the municipal billing system. A newly designed account is apparently on the way. The Mayor once again stressed that the Municipality did not monitor facebook posts and that residents should approach the Municipality directly. “We’re not keyboard warriors. (Ed: Doesn’t whatsapp count?) We are not waiting for your facebook post. We are busy getting things done,” she said.
Rabie said her biggest challenge and “nightmare for any Mayor” was the three investigations currently being undertaken in the Municipality. The first was the investigation into the housing department announced by President Ramaphosa just after the election. This, she said, was going to cost the Municipality about R3m. “The Special Investigation Unit is currently data-mining and we should have some sort of response by June.” Then there is also an investigation by the Public Protector and another into the appointment of Human Wildlife Solutions as contractor. The latter was initiated by the Together4Change conservationist grouping in Betty’s and Pringle Bay. Rabie said “if we need to clean out, we will do it.” She pleaded with residents to approach her with any information regarding maladministration. She also announced that she was ordering lifestyle audits on personnel in sensitive positions.
She referred briefly to the “complete nightmare” regarding burst water pipes in the Betty’s Bay area and said she had requested an engineer from the Province to investigate the issue. The Municipality had also met with Eskom about the electricity problems in the area.
Other issues the Mayco was working on, she said, were amongst others the Blue Flag beaches, dogs on the beach and shack farming. Ed: Does anybody know where I can get a pre-owned anti-vaporisation suit, not too expensive….