GEORGE NEWS - It seems that interesting times lie ahead in George politics. The DA's announcement last Friday, 8 May, that Leon van Wyk (64) will be the party's candidate to fill the mayoral vacancy has elicited mixed reaction.
It is highly likely that he will be chosen by Council, as the DA has a majority and two opposition parties, the ACDP and the VF Plus, have voiced their support for Van Wyk.
Some of the other opposition parties however are not impressed, but members of the business community reacted positively.
Dr Dennis Farrell, chairperson of the George Business Chamber, said Van Wyk has strong business and political experience. "If he is elected I will give him 100% support."
Dr Willie Cilliers, chairperson of the AHi Western Cape, said if Van Wyk is elected he would plead with him to ensure better cooperation between Council and the business community.
Jaco Londt, Member of Parliament and chairperson of the DA's East Region, said Van Wyk has all the experience and skills to do an excellent job. "There appears to be a breakdown in trust between the municipality and the public. It will be his primary responsibility, together with his team, to deliver the basic services expected from the George Municipality to address that trust deficit and put George back as one of the flagship municipalities in the country."
Johan du Toit of the ACDP said Leon is a solid person.
"I have known him as somebody that won't tolerate corruption."
Gert van Niekerk of the VF Plus said his party would support Van Wyk as long as he acts in the interests of George and its people. "He has an economic background. After the lockdown George will need somebody with that background to get the economy going."
ANC Chief Whip Nomawethu Jantjies-Gushman said the mere fact that the DA came up with Van Wyk as their candidate of preference is "a bad day for the Georgians". "The designation of Van Wyk once again confirms that the DA stands for white supremacy and only reaches out to the Africans and coloureds in particular for their votes," she said.
PBI's Virgill Gericke said the DA's nomination of Van Wyk as mayor of George is a major setback in the struggle for a just, equal and democratic society. "Serving with him in one council for the past eight years, I am truly disappointed that the DA is nominating somebody that spent a lot of time defending white and privileged interest in our city," he said.
Icosa Councillor Wilbur Harris said his party is not surprised with the DA's choice for their mayoral candidate.
"Leon van Wyk already had aspirations of becoming mayor in the time of Charles Standers, at which point he wanted a job in the mayor's office. We are concerned about his management and leadership style," said Harris.
Mercia Draghoender of the Good party said they won't pass comment on the matter.
'Physical' council meeting needed
Gerrit Pretorius, Speaker of the George Council, said that to elect a mayor, regulations require that councillors participate in a secret voting process during a physical council meeting. "We also need to approve the budget, which needs to go through a public participation process. Myself and the Municipal Manager [Trevor Botha] are in communication to consider all options," said Pretorius. The council meeting of 27 March was cancelled due to Covid-19 lockdown regulations. A virtual meeting was scheduled for 31 March, but had to be cancelled when three dry runs proved unsuccessful.
Pretorius said he is positive that the processes should continue.
"We must do our best under the circumstances for the residents of George," he said. To his knowledge there is no deadline for the election of the mayor.
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