Elza van Lingen is rolling up her sleeves‚ anticipating a lot of hard work during her stint as the first Democratic Alliance (DA) mayor of the rural Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
“We have got to clean up Kouga and start delivering immediately the better services that we have promised the electorate‚” she told Tiso Black Star Group Digital shortly after provisional poll results showed a win by the DA in the local government elections on Thursday.
The municipality – which includes Jeffreys Bay‚ Humansdorp‚ Oyster Bay and Cape St Francis – borders Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth).
The DA won with more than 57% of the vote to the African National Congress 40-odd%‚ marking a significant shift in power in what has traditionally been an ANC stronghold province.
Van Lingen said that it “was clear” that the feeling to “vote for change” had been very strong on the ground‚ even in impoverished parts of the municipality.
“We have attained six of our wards‚ the previous six that we had and a seventh ward in Humansdorp and a few others‚” said Van Lingen.
“The surprise‚ though‚ was Ward 14‚ the area of Ocean View that we won. Ocean view‚ you must understand‚ there are so many squatter homes. It is so poorly serviced by the municipality that you can’t believe it. So we have got to pick up all those things and get the house in order. But‚ it is just so exciting‚” she said.
“We went in with a DA manifesto‚ now we have got the voters’ mandate and now we have to implement it‚” she said.
Van Lingen became a councillor in the then Cacadu District Municipality in 2006‚ and in 2009 she became a member of Parliament.
In 2011‚ she was elected as the leader for the DA in the National Council of Provinces (NCoP).
However‚ as of today‚ Van Lingen said‚ she will have to resign from her position at the NCoP as she takes on her new role as mayor of the Kouga Municipality.
“We never know what we are going to get once we take over; it is always sort of a rude surprise‚ but we are absolutely prepared to take on all the challenges thrown our way. That is what we have been fighting for.
“The people have suffered for such a long time‚ but it’s now time that we make the change‚” she said.
Van Lingen added that some of the changes‚ both internally and externally after the DA’s win‚ will be implemented as soon as possible.
Speaking about the internal changes to be implemented‚ she said: “Internally‚ we have got to start with the auditor-general and his report‚ and what has been done today. To rectify or to improve further matters that he raised as concerns.
“There are a large number of broken vehicles and machinery that the ANC never took care of‚ so we have got to look at that and our assets and where we are going with it.
“It is now the second month in the new financial year‚ so we will hardly be able to use funds when needed because we must first do the adjustment budget and that comes in the middle of the municipal year‚ around January/February‚” she said.
On the external changes‚ she said: “We have got to clean up Kouga and start delivering immediately the better services that we have promised the electorate.”
Kouga Municipality’s outgoing mayor‚ councillor Daphne Kettledas‚ said that the ANC remained positive despite the loss.
“We still feel positive‚ as I don’t think there is anything to feel negative about. We still have work to do here‚” she said.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille took to social media and to describe the win as “huge” earlier on Thursday.