If I were mayor...I promise to cut rates
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ACDP mayoral candidate Ferlon Christians promises to build a safe, inclusive and affordable city.
He believes the city needs a mayor and leadership who will shake up the council and steer it towards his dream.
“The city is moving backwards but I believe that with my mayorship I will be able to bring people together, restore their dignity so they can feel they belong to the city and be proud of it,” said Christians.
Christians, grew up in Bonteheuwel, came into politics when he joined the National Party and later Independent Democrats before joining the ACDP in 2011.
He has represented the ACDP both at municipal and provincial governments.
He said unlike some political parties who “encouraged support” for their parties through handing out free T-shirts the ACDP would demonstrate what it was capable of by providing services.
“Politics has become cheap - people sell their votes for a T-shirt. But my party wants to bring the dignity of people back,” he said.
On top of Christians’ list if he were to return to the City's headquarters, would be to “rid the municipality of corruption”".
“We need officials who cannot be corrupted or bribed. We have to get rid of the rot,” said Christians referring to a Corruption Watch report titled South Africa Needs Clean Hands published in August which highlighted corruption which plagued municipalities.
Christians emphasised that he would put measures in place to ensure “clean and corrupt-free” governance.
As part of the commitment he would also “scrutinise and realign” the budget to put the needs of the people first and bring the rates down.
“When you cut a suit, cut it to size. You don’t cut a suit and, thereafter, scramble around for bits of fabric. People are going through hardships and yet are slapped with high municipal service charges and property rates. I spoke to someone in Vredehoek and he’s struggling to sell his property due to the property rates. In Bo-Kaap it’s the same story, residents are complaining of the high rates. We need to listen to people and reduce the rates. People are moving away from the city centre to the outskirts. We need to be an inclusive and affordable city,” said Christians.
Safety is another key concern.
“One of the most common arguments about safety is that it’s not the responsibility of the local government but of the national government. The City has the resources to ensure the safety of people. If you have a will there's a way. With my background in safety and security we can make a significant dent in crime. We need to work together with provincial and national governments and not play the blame game,” said Christians.
During his a campaign trail in Mitchells Plain he was told that some street lights were broken and they had not been fixed despite calls to the City.
Christians would also like to empower neighbourhood watches and Community Police Forums to play a more critical role.
Christians' administration would also demonstrate empathy towards the less privileged.
“I will encourage ward budget allocations to be used wisely - most people have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and do not have food. Councillors would have to spend the allocations on helping the poor and also on helping the youth with skills development to get them off the street."
The city has been grappling with the housing crisis even before the coronavirus hit the country, with more than half a million waiting for houses in the province and 400 000 across the metro.
“I will work with the national and provincial governments, as well as the private sector to help develop properties on the land that we own and do so in a manner that will build an inclusive city ... in a transparent way so even the housing waiting list will be transparent,” he said.
Christians said also shared the party's position on vaccinations against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We must not be forced as citizens to be vaccinated it has to be a choice. We say no to vaccine passports - our right to choose whether or not to be vaccinated is guaranteed by the Constitution - why do they want to take away that freedom? It’s a hot issue - but that’s our position as a party,” Christians said.
He also said his party was pushing a godly agenda, underpinned by strong moral values to build up and strengthen families, communities and the city.
Christians believed that the approach would not exclude other religious faiths but would help unite everyone who believed in those values and also help deal with the rising phenomenon of homelessness.
"We need a co-ordinated approach that will involve professionals to help them while accommodated at safe places before reintegrating them into families and communities. We need to co-ordinate the sterling work being done by some non-governmental organisations and religious institutions and restore their dignity,“ Christians said.
He also felt that he had the required political experience to lead.
If his party was to be given an opportunity to lead the city, he would also break tradition by having a swearing in ceremony at the Grand Parade to “allow the public to be part of the event”.