Tempers flare in Newton Hall

Piet Liebenberg
TEMPERS flared when management of the municipality met with angry residents of Jeffreys Bay in the Newton Hall last Wednesday.
Whereas the intention of the meeting was for residents to give input on the Kouga Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP), they opted to demand answers from the officials who were present.
The chairman of the Jeffreys Bay Residents Association, Paul Hjul, said: “Quite simply Booi Koerat demonstrated an absolute lack of regard for the dignity of the mayoralty office which he holds and an absolute disregard for the very fabric of participatory democracy which underlies the South African constitutional system – if not our politics. Unfortunately it is clear that Koerat is more prepared to be a puppet occupying a high-paying job than a steward serving a high office to the best of his ability in a manner which gives the office – not the holder – sanctity.”
The meeting got off to a bad start when a resident who stood up to ask a question was rebuked by councillor Vernon Stuurman. This elicited a response from Hjul who said: “The rebuke was made all the more sinister by the fact that there was no indication that questions would be taken at the end of presentations, rather than in between. Not only was the conduct unparliamentary and disrespectful but when I afforded Mr Koerat the ability to assume the chair and bring matters to order it was clear that the de facto deputy mayor of the Kouga would in deed call the shots.”
When asked to comment on the meeting, Hjul said: “The lecture was frustratingly peppered with the current party line that the current administration cannot be blamed for the mishaps of the previous administration, with offence being taken if it is pointed out that many of the kingmakers of the previous administration are, by all indicators, king-makers of the current administration.”
At some stage Koerat told Jozef Wolhutter to “hou jou mond en sit” (shut your mouth and sit down). This after Wolhuter questioned the municipality’s goal of realising 95% of the budgeted income.
Wolhuter said: ” They currently only realise 85%, this means that they are about R50-million short. I then left the meeting in disgust.”
Hjul said the mayor treated Wolhuter as an errant schoolboy when he was trying to get an answer to a legitimate question.
Resident Ludwig Vorster wrote on the Courier blog, “Koerat played the race card and alleged that white people look down on the ruling party.” He also wrote Koerat objected to Hjul’s “high” English and that he talked too fast for anyone to understand what he was saying.
Hjul said the panel did not wish to address the issues and instead wished to “workshop” the public into subservience. “The sinister race card was unskillfully played by Koerat to which I insist to record the Chair’s insinuation that I was a racist,” said Hjul.
“The rot of Kouga municipality is a culture which discards public participation and creates a political elite who, by virtue of excessive power, are corrupt and who assume themselves to be sanctified by the office they have taken by chance and fortune.”

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