GEORGE NEWS & VIDEOS - The election of DA Councillor Leon van Wyk as the new mayor of George was an historical event. "To our knowledge it is the first time a mayor has been elected in a virtual council meeting," said DA Constituency Head Geordin Hill-Lewis.
The special council meeting last Friday was also the first electronic council meeting for George Council. Earlier attempts to hold such a meeting during lockdown had been unsuccessful. Voting took place at the Conville and Blanco community centres and the Thembalethu Thusong Centre.
Although it was decided that councillors would stay home and join the meeting on their laptops and tablets, many opted to visit the voting stations in person for the duration of the meeting. Big screen projections at the three centres added extra luxury to the event. Councillors voted at the centres, whereafter the votes were transported and counted at the Conville Community Centre.
Out of 49 votes cast, those in Van Wyk's favour tallied to 26. The opposition's candidate of choice, Virgill Gericke of the PBI, received 23 votes. Gericke was nominated by ANC Chief Whip Charlie Williams.
With four DA councillors short (three vacancies in Wards 8, 14 and 27, plus Vincentius Muller, a correctional services officer who may not currently fulfill his role as full-time councillor), the DA filled the former mayor's position of PR councillor temporarily with one of their party officials, Lizelle Pienaar, to reach a head count of 24 councillors.
In addition, the DA enjoyed the support of both the ACDP and FF Plus, which helped to up their numbers.
It is no secret that both the ANC and DA have approached FF Plus Councillor Gert van Niekerk for his vote. Van Niekerk said although he was promised the position of mayor by the opposition, which was certainly something to consider, he cast his vote in the best interests of George.
"After careful consideration, the FF Plus decided not to join the ANC-led opposition, mainly due to divergent political points of view which, in coalition government, especially with other more radical opposition parties who are part of that grouping, are a recipe for further fighting and confrontation," said Van Niekerk.
He said the FF Plus will never relinquish its integrity, values and objectives and is not prepared to renounce those values for the sake of coalition politics. He congratulated Van Wyk on his position and said the FF Plus will cooperate as far as his decisions and actions are in the best interests of George.
"Being elected mayor is the easy part, to be worthy of the post is more complicated," said Van Wyk.
Watch two videos below:
Hill-Lewis said the DA is confident that the election of Van Wyk as mayor is the first important step towards restoring the integrity of the George Council. "Leon brings with him the integrity, energy and humility needed for the job," he said.
"He will take the lead in focusing on attracting investment, growing the local economy, and retaining George's status as one of the best places to live in South Africa. This way, the municipality will be properly resourced to improve basic service delivery to the poor and invest in much-needed infrastructure."
DA Regional Chair Jaco Londt said George has gone through a difficult time. "The hard work starts now to fix the brand of George and regain the trust of the citizens," said Londt. He thanked the councillors "from across the board" who gave Van Wyk their support.
The new George Mayor, Leon van Wyk, wants to increase the economy of the city. Read more about his thoughts here.
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