Durban – BY-ELECTIONS are imminent in at least four DA-run wards in the eThekwini Municipality because the affected councillors were promoted to the provincial legislature.
The DA said four councillors, including an executive committee member and ward 35 (Durban North) councillor Heinz de Boer, would be leaving the city council.
Christopher Pappas of ward 31 (Berea, Sparks and Essenwood), Martin Meyer of ward 27 (Morningside and Greyville) and Bradley Singh of ward 48 (greater Phoenix area) will be sworn in as MPLs this week.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham confirmed the councillors had tendered their resignations and the party started the process of recruiting candidates for the by-elections. Graham said the councillors who were off to the legislature had done well in their wards and the party had no fear of losing their wards in the by-elections.
“Three of them have been in the local government for almost a decade.
“It’s only Pappas who was elected in 2016 but he has also done well.
“Although it is difficult losing dedicated councillors who have a lot of experience, it is an opportunity for other members to raise their hand and make their mark,” she said.
De Boer, who was a councillor for a decade, described his time as an adventure with mixed experiences.
“Working with the community has certainly been one of the best experiences of my life. We had some difficult times. Sometimes the issues we had to deal with were bigger that a councillor could solve. But, I have met some incredible people, and have been moved and touched by the kindness and community spirit of so many,” he said.
Pappas said that during his relatively short stint as councillor, he learnt a lot about local government.
“Local government is about bread and butter issues; like street lights, potholes, verges, burst pipes while the provincial government is more about policy, oversight and long term planning.
“Being a ward councillor is like no other position in politics. We are the only people who are directly elected by the people which means the expectations and accountability are that much greater. I have enjoyed serving my community and would do it again if given the opportunity,” he said.
Meyer said being a councillor was akin to being on a roller-coaster.
“A wild eight-year ride with ups and downs, sometimes frightening, sometimes thrilling, but always amazing,” he said.
He said being a ward councillor was the most challenging but also the most rewarding job he had done.
“Being able to represent the amazing people of ward 27 was a huge honour for me. I have grown as a person during this time, through the guidance and input of the thousands of residents of the ward.
“I have made mistakes along the way and I got a couple of things right.”
Graham said she had made a proposal to the provincial and national leadership to fill the vacancy of the Exco member where the DA had only three members. The matter is currently being discussed.
The date for the by-election has not been revealed, but, according to the Electoral Commission of SA, they must take place within 90 days of the date of the ward vacancy occurring.