Councillor is doing a good job

Marius Botha, Welgelegen

We human beings so often take the good things in life for granted, but when the tide changes, we look for a scapegoat.

There is no better example of this than the letter of Silvia Pretorius, “Councillor not doing a good job,” February 24).

At present, our country is a powder keg waiting to explode, due to daily protests by dissatisfied citizens who don’t even have the basic essentials for human existence, such as water, sanitation, shelter, food, good education, medical care and safety.

Ms Pretorius lives in Welgelegen, one of the most affluent and beautiful suburbs in the whole of South Africa with all of the above, and she is still not satisfied and looking for someone to blame.

The staff of the municipality of Parow, with the assistance of people like councillor Sakkie Pretorius, are the people who created and are now maintaining this utopian environment for her.

As I understand it, the municipality, in its endeavour to further upgrade the services to her section of the suburb, had to appoint a private contractor to excavate sections of the road to lay pipes, and at the conclusion did not restore the pavement to its original high standard. What a disaster!

I am the chairman of a residential complex in Welgelegen, which borders on one of the many greenbelt parks. I occasionally also have to remind the relevant municipal departments that the trees need pruning or stormwater gullies need cleaning, etc, and then it is usually done promptly and efficiently. If there is a delay, I normally inform Mr Pretorius by email, and within a day I am CC-ed in on his request to the relevant department to tend to the matter.

He usually follows up after a short while to ensure the work was done to our satisfaction. As far as I know, there are very few, if any, councillors in the country who deliver this kind of personal service.

It was therefore no surprise when four years ago, at the previous municipal election, Mr Pretorius’s ward had one of the highest ballot percentages and scored the highest majority win of any candidate in South Africa.

I have lived in the Plattekloof -Panorama area since 1973, and especially in my younger days, was very actively involved in community activities and affairs, which included the municipality.

I therefore had the privilege of a long association with Mr Pretorius as a former MP and later as a councillor for this area.

I always admired and treasured his sparkling personality, his enormous work rate, his dedication and loyalty to the cause, his good human relationships and, most of all, his honesty and humbleness.

There is no better way to portray Mr Pretorius’s approach to life and his work, than with the words of John F Kennedy at his inaugural speech in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

From the facts reported in the newspaper and the serious accusation against Mr Pretorius, it appears that Ms Pretorius might not be clued up on how the structures in a municipality work.

Mr Pretorius is an elected official to the legislature of the municipality and accountable to his party and constituents. He may request, but not enforce, any action or services from the appointed officials of the executive of the municipality.

The appointed officials may only get instructions from and are accountable to the manager and senior officials of the executive.

It seems that in this case there is also a third party (private contractor) involved to blame, which even further complicates the matter. It is therefore highly commendable that Mr Pretorius, with his large workload, is still involved in this matter, and is now as the willing horse being flogged by Ms Pretorius.

My message to Ms Pretorius is that we all have sympathy with her for the inconvenience and damages she suffered due to the work done on behalf of the municipality.

It seems that Mr Pretorius, and to a large extent the municipality, have now done all they can to resolve this matter, and that she should now take legal action against the private contractor responsible.

I want to conclude by leaving a message to all the people who so easily complain when things go wrong and who don’t hesitate to destroy people and their reputations to get their own way: “Any fool can criticise, complain and – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie.