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Gayton McKenzie’s bold promises as he fixes Central Karoo mess

Central Karoo district municipality mayor and Patriotic Alliance president Gayton McKenzie has hit the ground running in his ambitious plan to make significant change in the area in his first 100 days in office. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Central Karoo district municipality mayor and Patriotic Alliance president Gayton McKenzie has hit the ground running in his ambitious plan to make significant change in the area in his first 100 days in office. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

Published Jun 19, 2022

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Johannesburg- When Gayton McKenzie took over as Central Karoo mayor, he boldly promised that by the time he marks his first 100 days in office there will be no bucket toilet in the district municipality.

"I will not be a mayor of people using bucket toilets," the Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader pledged on April 11, when he was sworn in.

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This week, McKenzie upped the ante, stating that he would resign if he failed to eradicate bucket toilets in the area altogether.

The PA took over the running of the district, which includes the Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Prince Albert local municipalities, after the party entered into a coalition with the ANC.

McKenzie continued with his unconventional and hands-on way of running the Central Karoo district municipality and this week was monitoring the project to eradicate bucket toilets.

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Workers installing pipes for toilets. Picture: Social Media

He posted pictures on social media where a tractor was removing mounds of earth in preparation for the ablution system wherein he said he intends changing the living conditions of the new generation to ensure that they don’t endure the same hardships their parents did 50 years ago.

”It was a big thing when I came here and we saw that people still use bucket toilets.

“I personally said, in my 100 days speech (that) if we don’t eradicate them totally as a coalition, I should resign and I still have around 30 days to do that,” he explained.

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McKenzie’s first 100 days will be on July 21 and has stuck to his undertaking to remove bucket toilets.

”If I don’t do that, I am resigning and I am going back to my house,” he said.

Since taking over the reigns, McKenzie has been making headlines with the number of projects he has launched and the promises he has made.

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Gayton McKenzie standing next to potholes that have been fixed. Picture: Social Media

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke this week said poor outcomes of Central Karoo municipalities were due to instability in political and administrative leadership and an inability to attract and retain suitably skilled staff due to their geographic location.

But McKenzie appears unfazed by the task he has signed up for.

”We, as the coalition, are very clear on one thing: We are going to fix all the things that have been neglected, there is political will among us,” he said.

According to McKenzie, local government is about responding to the needs of the people.

He has big dreams for the municipality.

”We are going to make sure that this is the investment hub of South Africa. We want people to come to the Central Karoo,” McKenzie said.

Among the projects that are starting to materialise is a bakery, which is expected to officially open on Monday after the completion of training for its staff.

The idea for the bakery came after learning that bread was transported from Worcester, which is nearly 350km from Beaufort West.

McKenzie promised that a tar plant would be operational within 10 days this past Monday and by Thursday, he said it would be set up this weekend.

The tar plant will ensure that the municipality no longer has to order tar, which is used to fix potholes, from Cape Town or George and that will reduce time and transport costs.

The project has created 10 jobs.

Also being refurbished is the local swimming pool, which residents have complained that they have been waiting for four years to have it fixed.

McKenzie was also due to open a PPE (personal protective equipment) factory on Saturday as part of revitalising the textile industry.

He has promised that only women between the ages of 50 and 60 will form part of the factory’s 100-strong workforce.

Earlier this month, the work of installing 15 solar plants started, with McKenzie promising that the municipality will be energy independent.

He has also set his eyes on a brick manufacturing plant, which he also wants in place before July 21.

In all the projects McKenzie has launched he has undertaken that only South Africans will be employed to help alleviate unemployment, especially youth unemployment that is so staggering.

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