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Die DA in die Raad - The DA in Council :

Freedom – Vryheid …?

The first indication that something was horribly wrong in the Ukhahlamba District Municipality (UkDM) came in the Agenda of a Community Services Standing Committee Meeting which took place on 18 April 2008. Mention was made of 15 infants who died in Barkly East, but because of the delay between the actual deaths and the investigation, it was impossible to determine the cause of death with certainty.  Cllr Retha de Bruin, DA whip in the Ukhahlamba Council, alerted the DA leader in the Eastern Cape, Athol Trollip and Trollip contacted the media. And then it was discovered that 80 babies were involved …

Why did all the babies die? The sad truth is that we might never know the answer (a report is due shortly), yet we can learn a few hard lessons.

The first lesson is about accountability and transparency. The Executive Mayoral System has reduced councillors to rubber stamps with little knowledge of what is happening in their municipalities. UkDM had a Council Meeting on the 4th of April 2008, yet no mention was made of the looming crisis. At this same meeting water quality reports up to October 2007 were tabled  – five months old. Might timeous and regular reporting of water quality have saved some babies? Sadly we would never know. Maybe water quality is not the culprit, maybe access to ARV for pregnant mothers is the problem. The point is: without prompt reporting, immediate action and thorough investigation we will keep on guessing and babies will keep on dying.

The second lesson is about priorities. UkDM pleads ‘financial challenges’ for not being able to cover all rural sampling points for water quality monitoring, yet is planning a costly and totally unnecessary ‘name change’ procedure which will contribute zero to service delivery. Ukhahlamba DM was formerly the Drakensberg Regional Services Board and received its current name as recent as 2000 after a public participation process. Unlike the babies, the name change made it without any delay into the Council Agenda of 04 April 2008. Equally disgusting is the fact that UkDM went ahead with Freedom Day Celebrations in Burgersdorp on 27 April 2008 in spite of this tragedy. Yours truly was phoned by SAFM on, if I remember correctly, 23rd to ask whether the DA will attend the Freedom Day Celebrations in Burgersdorp. I answered no, simply because we were in no stage involved or invited; and more important with 80 babies dead I believe we have more reason to mourn than to celebrate. One can ask: what freedom do we celebrate? The freedom to die in infancy?

To my mind these celebrations were nothing less than dancing on the graves of babies.
En nou terug by Gariep se begroting. Die probleempie van die tekort van R39 miljoen is, so hoor ons, sommer chop-chop opgelos. Die plan is om glo twee addisionele verkeersbeamptes aan te stel en dié gaan ‘n ieder en ‘n elk wat ‘n tyre durf verkeerd sit opskroef tot en met R39 miljoen (plus natuurlik die twee nuwe beamptes se salarisse). Maklik.


Goeie raad: indien enigsins moontlik, loop as jy kan en gebruik jou voertuig net om uit die dorp te kom.


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