GEORGE NEWS - A council meeting that was dubbed by some as "the worst ever experienced", took a turn for the better when the meeting was rescinded and conducted from scratch the very next day.
Late on Tuesday morning, 25 August, opposition councillors met with the mayor and chief whip of council to discuss the aftermath of Monday's disastrous meeting where an item on the roll-over adjustment budget could not be tabled since those in favour of the resolutions - the DA, ACDP and FF Plus - were one vote short to pass the item through council.
PBI leader Virgill Gericke expressed his delight that, on the opposition's request, a meeting was held to agree on the compliance issues for National Treasury to avail the grant funding for the adjustment budget.
With a deadline for the very same day to approve the item, and thus ensure that funds of R140-million (municipal and grant funding) will be available to finish several projects* (mostly civil engineering) throughout the municipal district, an emergency council meeting was called for Tuesday afternoon, following the late morning meeting. With everyone's cooperation the item was approved within an hour.
On Monday a three-hour fight over the opposition's wish list of items from a previous negotiation ensued, during which some opposition councillors completely lost their council ethics.
Chief Whip of Council Marlene Barnardt said she has been a council member since 2013, and has never experienced a meeting like the one on Monday.
"It was a sad day for George. The behaviour is totally unacceptable," said Barnardt.
Deputy Mayor Charlotte Clarke said she was disgusted by the way the speaker and the mayor were addressed. "I also did not like the threats. These people [certain members of the opposition] hinder services and the progress of our town."
Johan du Toit of the ACDP said the lack of respect and ethics in the actions of certain councillors is worrisome and should be addressed.
FF Plus Councillor Gert van Niekerk too expressed his dismay with the poor behaviour displayed by some councillors and singled out Icosa's Theresa Fortuin, whose conduct he described as substandard. Both Du Toit and Van Niekerk asked Speaker Gerrit Pretorius to act against the offenders.
Asked whether he will consider this request, Pretorius said there is an obligation on a speaker to take certain steps. "I will fail in my duty if I don't," he said.
Fortuin told George Herald she was bullied several times during the specific meeting while performing her duties as councillor. "I stood defenseless and alone as a woman while being insulted and humiliated. There was serious provocation. I am disappointed that I was attacked by Afrikaner men during this month of celebrating women."
* Some of the projects: the procurement of 50 skips for the removal of rubbish in parts of the town; repair and renewal work at several of the 120 sewage pumping stations; the procurement of a sewage truck with tanker for the Uniondale / Haarlem area; rebuilding and resealing of streets in Thembalethu, Rosedale, Lawaaikamp and the upgrade of several sports fields.
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