GEORGE NEWS - Three positive cases of Covid-19 within the George Traffic Department has had a domino effect on local politics, causing the special council meeting for the election of the new George mayor to be cancelled twice.
A meeting that was set to take place on Monday afternoon was rescheduled for Tuesday at different venues throughout George, including the Conville Civic Centre, when it came to light that one of the officials who tested positive had accessed the main municipal building.
However, the Tuesday meeting was cancelled when another official, who had contact with key role players within Council, also tested positive.
DA Regional Chairperson Jaco Londt said he is extremely disappointed that the meeting did not take place on Tuesday. "I do however understand that the safety and health of people needs to be prioritised. It is therefore incumbent upon the organisers to find alternative options considering that Covid might continue to impact the meeting," he said.
Speaker Gerrit Pretorius said screening and possible testing will be done if so required. The DA candidate for George's mayoral seat is councillor Leon van Wyk. The opposition has not yet announced their choice of candidate.
Although meetings can be held electronically, using video and/or telephone conferencing, actual voting needs to take place with the election of a mayor. Councillors need to physically submit their votes, whereafter the votes have to be counted.
The agenda for the special council meeting included the election of the mayor; the annual salary increase for the Municipal Manager and directors; and the approval of the upper limits of salaries, allowances and benefits for councillors. The tabling of the 2020/21 draft budget will be dealt with later this month.
The main building of George Municipality had to be closed off for the rest of the week and will reopen next week Monday to officials only. The whole building underwent a sanitation process last week, which will now be repeated.
"As the average lifespan of the virus is deemed to be 5,7 days, it is recommended to keep a building/s closed for at least one week after it has been disinfected," said Edwards-Klose.
The cost of the sanitation routine is kept low, as the process is being undertaken by officials of the George Fire Brigade and the products used are their only expense.
The Provincial Department of Health's office in George is responsible for the contact tracing to find any persons the officials may have been in contact with outside the workplace, and the municipality is assisting the health practitioners where possible.
Municipal Manager Trevor Botha said the safety of their staff, as well as that of the public, remain a priority. "We ask that the public and our officials remain calm as all of the protocols are being addressed in terms of Covid-19 safety measures. All of our essential workers, including protection services officials, have from the onset of lockdown been issued with and wearing the correct PPE whilst performing their functions to protect themselves and any members of the public they may have been in contact with. All municipal officials strictly follow the guidelines from the Health Department with their temperatures screened daily and social distancing measures practised in our workspaces."
ANC Chief Whip Nomawethu Jantjies-Gushman said it's not clear what game the DA is playing. "Quite honestly, there is no urgent item on this agenda. If the DA was serious about the business of this town and the residents, the approval of the draft budget would be the urgent matter on the agenda, since it must be submitted before the end of May," she said. "I suspect that the DA is doing this deliberately. It is an attempt to place George Municipality under administration, so that they can cover up their corruption."
- The municipal drop-off donation centre at the Banquet Hall remains open. "The access point to the hall faces away from the main municipal building, the hall and staff working there are sanitised daily, and there is no internal access from the main building for security reasons," said Edwards-Klose.
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