Sunday, August 31, 2008

New Mayor for a Month

- Linda Jaquet -

Daunting” is how Prince Albert’s new Executive Mayor, Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor Gay van Hasselt, described her new role to the Friend on 14 August, her first day in office. Cllr van Hasselt’s appointment follows the resignation of DA Executive Mayor, Andrew Claassen, in April. ANC Council member Maria Benjamin was Acting Executive Mayor from that time to 13 August when DA leader Helen Zille and ANC Provincial Secretary Mcebisi Skwatsha intervened to ensure implementation of the 2006 verbal agreement between the two political parties on the sharing of power in our “hung” Municipal Council.

In terms of the agreement reached after the 2006 local government elections, the DA would hold the position of Executive Mayor and the ANC would fill the posts of Speaker and Deputy Mayor for the first half of the current Council’s term of office. Thereafter, the parties would swap the leadership positions for the remainder of the term.

However, for some time Prince Albert residents have watched in consternation as infighting and political wrangling have resulted in paralysis in the Council and the DA’s inexplicable delay in replacing Claassen. Mayor van Hasselt’s term will thus end on 13 September 2008.

Burgemeester Van Hasselt is duidelik nie deur die tydsbeperking gepla nie. Sy beoog om – met behulp van onafhanklike kundigheid – die kritiese poste van Munisipale Bestuurder en Hoof Finansiële Beampte so vinnig moontlik te vul, asook die vakante pos van Gemeenskapsdienste Bestuurder.

Terselfdertyd is sy bedag daarop om die breuk tussen Raadslede te heel en om die munisipale werknemers se vertroue in die politieke leierskap te herstel. “Ek sien ons graag as ‘n span wat dinge gedoen kry: die Munisipaliteit se sukses behoort aan ons almal, nie aan ‘n individu of ‘n party nie,” sê van Hasselt. ‘n Volgende prioriteit is die hou van gereelde openbare vergade-rings in alle dele van die munisipale gebied om die gemeenskap op hoogte van sake te hou en om ook hul insette te kry.

En wat van die dissiplinêre verhoor waarin sy betrokke is? Van Hasselt sê “dit moet volgens normale prosedure afgehandel word, ek sal geensins daarmee inmeng nie.”

Mayor van Hasselt is well known by the local community and beyond the bounds of our town for her highly-successful “Gay’s Dairy”. She and her husband, Clive, are a hard-working, supportive partnership. She is a mother, who always speaks with great pride and gentleness about her children.

How does she balance all her roles, particularly now that she has added a public persona to them? “I have a remarkable support system of people who I care for and who care for me,” she responds. “After all you can’t be involved in nation-building if you have no sense of family. I would love to see everyone in Prince Albert working together without any concern for the other’s race or colour or creed with one purpose – the good of the town that is crime-free, where women and children are safe and people live peacefully and happily.”

No comments: