DA Bitou Covid Newsletter

During the initial stages of level 5 lockdown, Plettenberg Bay found itself in a relatively isolated bubble with only 5 confirmed cases of Covid 19.

With the onset of level 4 lockdown on 1 May and its initial window period of free movement within and between provinces, we still had only 5 confirmed cases of which virtually all had recovered by then.

The danger of this virus is that infected people can remain asymptomatic for up to fourteen days before they show signs of illness. Some may experience such mild symptoms that they may not even realise that they have contracted the virus.  Importantly however, an infected Corona asymptomatic person does remain a carrier and can spread the virus.

It is movement that spreads the virus and as the economy opens more and more, movement in and out of town and between towns will increase.  This is clearly illustrated in the total Bitou Corona positive cases reported between 1 May and 21 June. We now suddenly have 33 confirmed cases of which 17 cases are still in recovery.

While we don’t wish to spread panic we must caution that social distancing, hand sanitising and the wearing of cloth masks that cover both the mouth and nose is becoming more and more important as we move to greater freedom of movement and economic activity.

We suggest that you keep yourself updated on the latest Corona news. If you choose you may approach your relevant ward councillor (detail listed below) who will assist to get you added to the official DA Coronavirus WhatsApp broadcast list.

It may also help you to know that our DA leader, John Steenhuisen, provides accurate information and updates on the official DA Twitter, Facebook or YouTube account every Tuesday and Friday.

Should you be interested in adding yourself to one or more of the broadcast lists mentioned above, kindly email your ward councillor by providing your full name, ID number, telephone number and e-mail address. Also remember to indicate clearly which broadcast list/s you would prefer to be added to.

WARD COUNCILLOR EMAIL ADDRESS
1 Jessica KamKam jessica.kamkam@gmail.com
2 Dave Swart    gonedown@telkomsa.net
4 Anne Windvogel windvogel85@gmail.com
7 Annelise Olivier  arn2102@gmail.com
  1. YOUR DA COUNCILLOR ACTIVITIES DURING THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD

Initially lockdown caused severe disruptions to normal Council business, particularly to the annual IDP and budget processes which, by law, should have been completed by end March. Fortunately, emergency amendments to legislation permitted the extension of the public participation period and final approval of the IDP and budget to mid-June.

By mid-April virtual Skype Municipal Council and Committee meetings had become the “new normal”. On 11 June, the 2020/21 IDP and Budget was approved by majority ANC/AUF vote. Although the proposed revenue streams, rates and service tariffs were adjusted downward to accommodate the impact of Covid 19, the DA still could not see its way clear to vote in favour of the adoption of the tabled budget.

RATE/TARIFF ITEM    
PROPOSED % INCREASE  ADOPTED BUDGET % INCREASE
Water 5%   4%
Electricity (NERSA) 6,24% 6,22%
Sewerage  5% 4%
Refuse  7% 5%
Property Rates  5% 5%
Anticipated 2020/21 CPI rate     4,9%

 The DA’s vote against the budget was based on the following considerations: –

  • With outstanding rates and service payments already standing at over R260 million for the year and the payment collection ratio dropping from 90% in January 2020 to as low as 50% in May 2020, the DA believes that the anticipated revenue was not adjusted down enough to provide for the impact of the Corona pandemic.
  • The continued deduction of outstanding municipal debt from the prepaid electricity purchases made by mostly township residents is not justifiable given the severe impact of Covid 19.  The sharp rise in unemployment in the wake of the pandemic must be considered here.
  • Budgeting for unfunded RDP housing projects which are not “Project Ready” and thus not officially Gazetted or funded by Provincial Government, simply cannot be supported.  Worse still is that the budget provides for the almost total depletion of Municipal investments to fund these unready projects.
  • Staff cost at over 36% without an increase in headcount is totally unacceptable. This is 6% higher than the accepted norm of 30%. The anticipated expenditure on overtime of up to R20 million is equally unacceptable. The DA also proposed that all Senior managers sacrifice their unlawful Scarce skills allowances which will significantly reduce the staff cost.
  • Given the massive impact of the Corrona pandemic on municipal revenue, the DA finds the budget provision for yet a further replacement BMW for the Executive Mayor as well as a new unspecified vehicle for exclusive use of the Deputy Executive Mayor an insult to our citizens. More so since Deputy Executive Mayors have never in the past been provided with exclusive use vehicles in Bitou. This frivolous expenditure will cost our town a further R1,65 million. The DA proposed that the existing Mayoral vehicle be sold to be replaced by a Toyota Corolla for shared use by the mayor and his deputy.

Since the very beginning of lockdown, DA ward and PR Councillors have been deeply involved in the coordination of food parcel distribution and the setting up of approved Soup Kitchens within the wards where they live. The DA can proudly say that our wards have been particularly successful, setting the benchmark for other wards. The DA also seconded our ward 2 Councillor, Dave Swart, to serve on the Central Covid Committee where he is making a notable impact.

The DA would like to express its deepest appreciation to our amazing private donors, volunteers, churches and NGO’s who continue to work tirelessly to keep the unemployed poor people fed during these difficult times. They also funded and organised the isolation hospital, given out 50, 000 cloth masks, raised funds for PPE’s, sanitised public places, and brought Bitou to the place where controlled help can be provided.

Bill Nel

DA Caucus Leader

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