Racism in spotlight as Ward 8 voters go to polls

Late last year, white residents of Ward 8 clashed with EFF and ANC supporters over alleged racism at Brackenfell High School.

Ward 8’s incumbent DA councillor is seeking re-election, campaigning on tackling homelessness, improving social care and going green, but her ANC challenger says the ward has a racism problem that needs fixing.

Late last year, white residents of the ward clashed with EFF and ANC supporters over alleged racism at Brackenfell High School.

The ward covers Brackenfell, Mabille Park and Bracken Heights, and, in 2016, the DA won it with 94% of the votes, followed by the ANC with 2% and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) with 1.6%

Ward 8 incumbent Marian Nieuwoudt is hoping to be re-elected.

The DA’s Marian Nieuwoudt, 64, has been a councillor in the area since 1996 and is running for a sixth term.

Ms Nieuwoudt says the average cost of her campaign, including the DA’s contribution, was R50 000.

Ms Nieuwoudt, who doubles as mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment, says she is working “towards the dream” of Brackenfell, which includes going green and developing partnerships for strengthening social care.

Unemployment, urbanisation including new taxi ranks, and homelessness are key issues affecting the ward, she says.

Ms Nieuwoudt says a biodiversity park in Rouxville near Bottelary Road, will be one of her priorities if elected. And she is looking forward to overseeing a green area in Hoopenberg. She also wants to build a safe environment.

ANC Ward 8 candidate Lwazi Masiza

Lwazi Masiza, 37, the ANC’s Ward 8 candidate, says Brackenfell has a problem with racism that needs to be addressed. He is running for office because he believes in transparency, integrity and clean governance, he says.

Asked whether he considers racism a stumbling block to his campaign, Mr Masiza says: “The high school debacle is a clear example of racism by the DA-run municipality. Brackenfell High’s website is still (written) in Afrikaans, so that paints a clear picture to us: nothing has changed.”

He estimates his campaign to have cost him R25 000. Pressed whether the ANC has supported him financially, Mr Masiza says: “The ANC has no budget.”

He says his ward is plagued by several challenges, including a lack of support for young entrepreneurs and no bursaries for matriculants.

“The youth of my community is not empowered at all because the current councillor is disconnected (from) the masses,“ he says. ”For instance, people don’t even know who their ward councillor is, whether it’s a male or female – that’s how invisible she is. Lastly there’s a serious problem of racism in my ward that the current councillor is not addressing, and she is turning a blind eye on this fundamental issue.”

Mr Masiza, who is making his election debut, says he’s on the ground “listening and connecting” with residents and he vows to prioritise local companies for City contracts.

Good’s Ward 8 candidate is Ashley Hendricks.

Ashley Hendricks, 40, is the Ward 8 candidate for the Good party. Ward 8 is diverse and he “resonates” with everyone in the area, he says.

Owner of a logistics company and father of four, Mr Hendricks says residents have complaints and feel they are not represented or heard by the incumbent councillor.

He would not divulge his campaign costs, saying: “It costs more than just money to campaign.“

He says Kuils River’s “indigenous people” have been marginalised and their service-delivery complaints ignored.

“I do not know the current councillor. I have not seen or met her, even though I have lived in Kuils River more than 10 years.

“I will be available and listen and actually do my best to assist people of the ward. It’s not a strategy; it’s the service I will deliver. This is not a game. I want to be of service to the community.”

His immediate goal, he says, will be to improve safety and security in the area.