Pretoria - The newly-elected DA councillor for ward 96, Gé Breytenbach, has rubbished claims that his lack of experience in the local government affairs could hamper his ability to deliver services.
Breytenbach was speaking to the Pretoria News after his party retained the ward following the by-election.
The DA bagged 1 598 of the votes translated into 44.89% , while ActionSA came second amassing 776 votes equivalent to 22.3%.
Breytenbach's main opponent from ActionSA, Hannes Coetzee had previously criticised him for not understanding local government, saying that his track record can't be trusted.
A former DA councillor, Coetzee resigned from the party in January to join ActionSA and was criticised by the DA federal chairperson Helen Zille for being a dishonest leader.
Breytenbach said: “Yes, Hannes said I am inexperienced although I was sitting in a caucus with him as a PR councillor before the election last year. I have got experience. I was part of the Section 79 standing committee where he was a chairperson for the previous term.”
He said that while experience was important, it was the ability to execute the community mandate that counted. “It is also the commitment from yourself to the community that takes a major role,” he said.
Although he envisaged resistance from some people to his leadership he took comfort in the fact that he enjoyed the majority of community support.
“I have support from people who definitely said 'congratulations to you although I didn’t vote for you'. From the ANC and EFF as well. They have already congratulated me and said 'let’s work together'. I am not scared to get opposition,” Breytenbach said.
He believed he was a community member first before being a DA member.
“I am here to assist the community politically with the DA commitments. I know this ward; I was working in this ward for a long time as a member from the DA but not as a councillor. So, I have the support from the community. I have due regard for the political parties they voted for and what they stand for. But we are working as a team as the community of ward 96,” he said.
DA provincial leader Solly Msimanga thanked the residents who came out to vote in their numbers, saying the mandate to elect Breytenbach meant the DA's mission to turn Tshwane around would continue.
In a statement, ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba said the by-election results showed growth from the 6.6% achieved in November 2021 to 22.3%.
“ActionSA was the only political party to achieve growth in this by-election with the DA, FF+, EFF and ANC all recording declines. In the process ActionSA went from being the fifth biggest party in the ward to the second biggest party, overtaking the ANC, EFF and FF+,” Mashaba said.