Race to the poll is on…

ORIELLE BERRY

Political parties are fielding some old and some new faces in the Kuils River area for the local government elections, for which three million Western Cape voters have registered and of which 1.9 million are from the metro.

Ward 14’s veteran politician Bertus van Dalen is stepping down, at the age of 75 and in his stead, Roelof Maré will be contesting the ward for position as councillor, which is part of Sub-council 21. The other wards in the sub-council which falls within Northern News’ area of distribution are Ward 11 and Ward 19.

Mr Van Dalen, who lives in Kuils River, took over the position from his son Pieter van Dalen, in 2009, when Pieter was elected as a DA member of Parliament.

“After seven years, and, as I turned 75 this year, I decided to step down,” Mr Van Dalen senior told Northern News.

“I decided that I had a very good innings as ward councillor and decided not to stand again in the upcoming municipal elections.”

My DA branch chairman, Roelof Maré, also from Kuils River, will stand in my place as the new candidate after an election process by the party to make certain that ‘fit for purpose’ candidates are chosen. “

The DA candidacy in Ward 14 will be contested by the ANC’s Sibongile Jean Mthamo; Nkosinathi Emanuel Mzayiya from the Economic Freedom Front, George William Brink from the Vryheidsfront Plus and Mashkur Luqman Hassien from the Africa Muslim Party, the latter of which has candidates in all 116 wards for the elections and Mr Hassien will also be standing in Wards 11 and 19.

In the 2011 elections the DA garnered 8 194 votes compared to 1 877 given to the ANC.

Ward 14 is a extremely widespread area, stretching from the north of affluent gated neighbourhoods in Zevendal and Zevenwacht, along with the traditional mixed Kuils River neighbourhood of Mikro Park. To the west is the mixed neighbourhood of Jagtershof and the industrial area of Blackheath. The north west areas of the ward border on Ward 11’s Highbury and St Dumas and to the south are the neighbourhoods of Wimbledon, Gaylee, Dennemere and further south to Penhill.

Northern News asked Mr Van Dalen senior what some of the challenges were working in this area, given there are some very mixed neighbourhoods from the affluent to the more economically challenged.

He answered: “Ward 14 is a very diverse ward as we have very upmarket, closed-off areas in the upper Langverwacht and Wynlanden areas, middle class in the Austinville and Dennemere area and the very poor in Kleinvlei and Happy Valley area. We also have industrial areas in the Blackheath and Saxenburg areas and the farming area around Polkadraai Road.

“On the one hand are the poor that want housing and basic services from council and also expect jobs to put bread on the table. On the other hand we have the upper- and middle-class that pay rates and taxes and want value for their money.”

Talking of some of the high points as his term as councillor, Mr Van Dalen said many of the roads in the ward he served had been upgraded.

“The main road between Eersterivier and the Polkadraai/Stellenboch Arterial (R102) was completely renovated and upgraded.

“Also the R102 and Polkadraai/Stellenbosch Road crossing at Zevenwacht Mall was widened and upgraded to alleviate the traffic pressure at peak hours; the Upper Langverwacht Road was also upgraded and traffic circles were installed to better the traffic flow. Also a foot and cycle way was built for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.”

He added: “Although not in Ward 14, the other end of Amandel Road was upgraded to a dual carriageway, assisting in the congested traffic flow to and from Ward 14 and the Saxdown Road bridge over the Kuils River is also nearly completed and the road will be opened soon – this will also help to solve the traffic congestion in the area.

“Wimbledon Road between Happy Valley and the Blackheath Industrial area has also been upgraded with curbs and channels and wide sidewalk/bicycle path and Range and School streets in the Blackheath Industrial area have also been upgraded with curb and channel and sidewalks making them safer for pedestrians and vehicle usage.”

Aside from the road upgrades, Mr Van Dalen said: “From ward money, parks in Ward 14 were upgraded and maintained, sidewalks were built, especially in the poorer areas, trees were planted, speed humps were built where they were necessary and warranted.

“One or even two ward functions were held yearly for the senior constituents of Ward 14 to express the council’s appreciation for the elders in the community, programmes for the youth from the ward were sponsored, radios and cameras were bought to be used to bring more safety to the ward and we also spent money on water pressure lowering devices to lower the occasions of burst water pipes.”

What did he see as the challenges his successor would face? In response, he said: “The DA is not there yet and Rome was not built in one day. Now that most of the big issues have been resolved it is time to give attention to the issues of the man on the street. Like resurfacing old streets in built-up areas, replacing old water and sewer pipes, building sidewalks in areas that have never had them; and addressing the problem of backyarders on private property and giving them services and housing if they qualify.”

He added: “The success of Cape Town also attracts a lot of new people from other centres and they are welcome, but in the meantime we must not forget the people born and bred in Cape Town. “

As a final word, Mr Van Dalen thanked both the DA and his constituents for their support.“I did this to the best of my ability and did it in my way. I made a lot of friends in these seven years and I believe very little foes. Even the secretary of the Communist Party in Cape Town is my friend although we do not speak about politics.

“I would also like to thank the City officials for taking all issues seriously and trying to resolve them amicably and mostly succeeding in this. I will miss all this very much, but now is the time for me to really go on pension and look after my wife.”

Also standing down, in Ward 11, is councillor Jacob Jacobs and Desiree Visagie will be standing as DA candidate in that area, while it will be contested by ANC candidate Carol van Wyk, Dawn Roode for the ACDP, Volene Merely for the EFF and Werner Slabber for the Vryheidsfront Plus.

Ward 19 will also be hotly contested with the DA’s Ricardo Saralina standing for election, opposed by the ANC’s Debra Joey Davids, Elizabeth Michiel from the ACDP, the EFF’s Nokonwaba Bavuma and Douglas Misrole will be standing for the Vryheidsfront Plus.