In this second half of Avuyile Mngxitama-Diko's interview with Makana DA caucus leader Les Reynolds, he shares his views on the name-change debate, service delivery issues and councillors recently under fire.
How do you feel about the ongoing debate about changing the name of Grahamstown?
The DA is not for or against the name change. We don't want to be seen as party poopers. If the people want it, then so be it and that is our position nationally and in Makana, hence I proposed a referendum. Let everybody draw their cross against 'No' or 'Yes'. The result of that will indicate whether the majority of the people want it or not.
As Makana councillors, what sort of difficulties do you face?
Makana, like many municipalities, has numerous difficulties. We face the difficulties of lack of proper maintenance, although it is improving now with our new director [Thembinkosi Myalato]. In the roads and electricity departments I must say that the electricity department once said they didn't have qualified electricians and that is very bad for a city as large Makana.
We are worried about that and the water supply - the tardiness of bringing a proper water supply to Grahamstown has taken nearly three years. We raised the R60 million loan from the DBSA [Development Bank of South Africa], but because there was a little bit of fingering in the tendering process it had to be cancelled. And it's only where the service providers have been appointed [that a proper water supply is available] and we are going to bring better water in bigger pipes to the people of Grahamstown, especially in Grahamstown East.
So how do you feel about overall service delivery in Makana? I'm ambivalent about the service delivery at the moment. I still find too many people in green overalls lolling about in town. The work ethic of the municipality is still not what it should be, it's still, 'Ag, if we don't do it today we will do it tomorrow', but having said that as well, if there is a pipe burst you phone in and people do come out. They work jolly hard those people and if the pipe burst it is not their fault, it's because the pipes are old. The standby groups work hard. We don't want to generalise, the service delivery is okay, but the town is very untidy, the town needs maintenance.
What is happening in Ward 3, which is led by DA councillor Marcelle Booysen?
The majority of the people who brought her into power live in Grahamstown West, and there are quite a few people in Grahamstown North who voted for her, and the people who voted for her are happy. The people who are against her weren't even living there when the voting took place, they're new squatters. So they are being stirred up by certain ANC elements against councillor Booysen.
And what about councillor Paul Notyawa, whom the DA reported to Council because he earns a full-timesalary yet works another job?
We set a motion in place; we questioned the fact that he is a full-time councillor yet he runs his own legal practice. We were not happy with that because full-time councillors are full-time employees and they earn a big salary. In a council meeting a committee was set up and it came to no conclusions because Notyawa was being deliberately obstructive. We think they are just trying to sweep it under the carpet... What we will do as the DA, as a next step, is write a letter to the MEC.
At the end of the day, how do you see governance in Makana?
Grahamstown as a whole is not doing too badly, I do think that there is still too much politics in the ANC, they are too concerned about politics. The administration needs to be jacked up - we never know when a meeting is going to take place, there is not a programme they stick to. We have complained about it, we never know when we are going to be called in for a meeting. Grahamstown is growing, we need to get our infrastructure. Director Myalato mentioned a figure of a R100 000 000 to improve the sewerage and water infrastructure, so we are talking about lots and lots of money to get the city up and running to cope with the growth. Councillors need to be accountable to the citizens of Grahamstown.
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