ANC once again betrays voters by focusing on the wrong issues

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – Dr Beyers Naude Constituency Leader
04 Sep 2023 in Press Statements

The incompetent ANC is once again betraying its voters by focusing on the wrong issues in the build-up to elections, pushing for name changes in the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality (DBNLM), rather than focusing on real service delivery issues.

On Tuesday, 29 August 2023, during a special council meeting, DBNLM councillors were informed that the names for the towns of Graaff-Reinet, Adendorp, Aberdeen, and Nieu-Bethesda were to be changed. This, while raw effluent flows freely into the Sundays River, water and electricity infrastructure is collapsing, and basic services are grinding to a standstill.

A representative from the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Mark Mandita, said the process had been triggered by proposals from two individuals whose identities could not be revealed due to the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act.

Mandita said the names proposed were Robert Sobukwe or Fred Hufkie for Graaff-Reinet, Kwa Mseki Bishop Limba for Adendorp, Camdeboo for Aberdeen and Kwa Noheleni for Nieu-Bethesda.

What was extremely concerning was the attitude of Mandita, who appeared to be embarking on a box-ticking exercise, and who concluded his presentation by pointing out that where residents from other towns had objected to the name changes, these names had been changed anyway.

Councillors were not allowed to engage or debate either the proposed names or the processes followed.

The DA recognises the important role name changes play in redress, but it is of vital importance that government engage with the communities they serve openly and honestly, not hide what they are doing out of fear that the changes they are proposing will be rejected.

South Africans have the right to be consulted and participate in decisions that affect their interests. Renaming the fifth oldest town in South Africa most certainly requires thorough public participation and stakeholder engagement.

The municipality remains a water-scarce region, and the funds spent on frivolous name changes could be better spent on much-needed repairs to crumbling water infrastructure.

Without water, it really will not matter what you name these towns, as residents will be forced to relocate, and the towns will die. It is highly doubtful that struggle icons such as Sobukwe or Hufkie would want the cost of their legacy to be the final nail in collapsing the towns meant to honour them.

The DA will engage with the relevant legislation and process outlines to ascertain the validity of the process to date, and to ensure that residents of DBNLM and all other stakeholders are kept fully apprised going forward.

We will communicate further actions and procedures as soon as possible to ensure that every voice is heard before any decision is taken.

The DA will continue to fight to rescue the Eastern Cape and Dr Beyers Naude from the ANC’s neglect.

We will not allow the ANC to bully our community into submission and to make choices on behalf of the residents of the affected towns.  “Nothing about us without us”!