From kissing babies to win votes in the old days to keeping mum on the recent goings on in the Makana Council, DA caucus leader Les Reynolds has some interesting stories to tell. Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko spoke to him last week to find out what this opposition party's role is in local government and politics.
Makana DA caucus leader Les Reynolds talks to Grocott's Mail’s Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko about the role of the opposition, "unnecessary secrecy" within the municipality, service delivery and why the DA "promises nothing".
What is the DA's role in Makana?
The role of the Democratic Alliance is extremely important as the opposition party. Our role is to be an effective opposition, not to counter everything the ruling party does, but to see to it that what they do is correct for Makana. We believe in co-operative governance, in other words if they are doing things right we will work with them. We do however contest issues in the ruling party that we believe are not conducive for the promotion of Makana.
What do you think about the secret meetings held by Council?
We find ourselves in a very difficult situation; the council has taken a decision and we are the minority in the council. Taking a decision, issues pertaining to individuals are done in the committee. We are anti the secrecy - there is no question about it - but we cannot as councillors, if the council has agreed to do something in committee, go out and spill the beans.
We have to respect the council's decision. Unfortunately although we disagree, we make mention of this to the council that we don't support this. We are writing a letter to the Speaker right now abut the unnecessary secrecy in the municipality.
How has the municipality's accountability been affected by this secrecy?
It has affected us negatively, in terms of [us not being able to divulge what happened in those meetings. We do talk to people in general about what happens in Council, if you for example as a journalist ask me something, I'll say 'a source said this'...] because the DA must try to maintain our status as a good and clean party. What has the DA done for Makana after the last elections?
Let me make one thing very clear: the DA promises nothing. If you are not a governing or ruling party you cannot promise anything. I cannot promise anybody houses or new roads because I don't have the power to carry out those promises. We are a small opposition; six councillors versus 22 councillors. We said we will strive to help the people of Makana, which we do. We are still, for the time being, a minority party.
What has been the highlight of your two decades of being a councillor? I came in 1992 and that was during the old apartheid regime. There were no politics involved, you came in [under your own steam]. If there was a seat vacant and you walked around in that ward and you kissed a baby bitten by a dog, shook hands and people liked you they voted for you. It was in 1996 that the first democratic local government elections took place and the DA, which was then the DP, won three seats at the time.
But the highlight for me was the democratic process; we have had good and bad ruling party councillors. For me, the previous [bunch] were the worst we have had, they were extremely poor councillors. The swopping of the mayors, I thought that was an extremely poor council which was highly political. This one, I think the ANC has chosen people who are dedicated and I think the councillors are working harder - they have to. teaser.
I drove past an official Makana Municipality car today who casually threw a full bag of rubbish out their window and into Fitzroy street. A few weeks ago another official car narrowly missed hitting my boyfriend on his run, as they sped through the suburbs at a ridiculous rate. How dare they pretend to care about this municipality when they so blatantly disrespect it. There need to be tighter controls around these 'offical' vehicles. Lauren