It will take time to turn around Nama Khoi Municipality - mayor

2016-07-11 08:48
Nama Khoi local municipality Mayor Boeboe van Wyk. (News24)

Springbok - Turning around the Nama Khoi local municipality in the Northern Cape won't happen overnight but it can be done, its mayor Boeboe van Wyk says.

"It will take time to turn around the municipality. I believe two years," he told News24 in his office in Springbok, the administrative seat of the municipality.

Van Wyk, 63, said that when he came to power a few years ago, it was beset by financial and political issues.

"Doom and gloom, it doesn't look so good for now but I believe that Nama Khoi can become one of the better smaller municipalities in South Africa."

The local municipality, which stretches up to the Namibian border, is made up of former mission stations and mining towns.

In the previous local government elections, the African National Congress received the most votes in the municipality with 48.94%. The Democratic Alliance came second with 35.62 % of the vote, followed by Congress of the People with 15.4%.

- Elections Map: Previous Nama Khoi results

The two opposition parties took control with a coalition. The ANC won a by-election in 2013, taking over the majority of council seats and the running of the municipality.

Van Wyk said he was deployed to "come and stabilise things" after a year of no council meetings and committees.

The former municipal manager left and he had to suspend the chief financial officer and head of corporate services, he added.

Only one of seven senior managers was permanently appointed. "For the rest it was a Hollywood thing: They were acting and are still acting because so far we didn't succeed to recruit proper people."

"We have in the last two years brought political stability."

He said there was also around 90% to 95% access to basic services. The quality of these could be improved, he conceded.

Escalation of debt

Nama Khoi was classified as dysfunctional in 2013. Van Wyk said the auditor-general had changed this to functional but still at risk.

"We are not where we are supposed to be," the mayor said with a frown. "We want to move to unqualified and to clean audit. But you are not going to change things so quickly, you need to understand that."

Looming over the administration was the huge escalation of its debts.

The municipality had the highest debt to Eskom and Sedibeng Water in the province, Van Wyk said.

They had begun to reduce the debt and enter into repayment agreements.

"It means that monies you could have used for other development we had to use for payment of outstanding debt."

Van Wyk was reluctant to give a firm answer on whether he would accept another term if the ANC remained in power after elections.

He said it was up to the ruling party to decide and deploy.

Pointing at his grey hair, he said he was also not young anymore. He also thought it time for the party to balance experienced individuals with those who were youthful.

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