The Democratic Alliance (DA) led Stellenbosch Municipality, under the leadership of mayor Gesie van Deventer, is blazing a trail of good governance to put residents first in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. During an emergency meeting on 25 March, the DA-led council took the unprecedented decision to suspend the collection of property rates for businesses and households within the municipal boundaries that have been negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
The payment holiday will last for three months. Once the crisis is over, the municipality will work with applicants to repay the principal outstanding debt on reasonable terms and without the accrual of any new interest. As a responsible custodian of public money, Stellenbosch Municipality will only grant the rates payment holiday to businesses, farms, and industrial enterprises that, upon formal application, can prove that their income has been negatively affected by the coronavirus crisis.
The same application process will apply to individuals. Rate payments for all households with individuals who lose their job as a result of the crisis will also be paused for three months, and no interest will be charged.
This means that vulnerable businesses and individuals will, for the next three months, have access to the money they would normally have spent on municipal rates.
Additionally, Stellenbosch Municipality has temporarily suspended all credit control measures until at least the end of April, or until the lockdown ends if it extends beyond the end of April. This is to ensure that residents are not cut off from critical services like electricity and that they have enough cash on hand to weather the lockdown and the economic storm. The municipality will continue to investigate other possibilities for debt relief measures as the situation develops. Normal debt collection measures will resume afterward.
The council further resolved to increase the amount of free water allocated to indigent households from 6 kiloliters to 10 kiloliters per month. This is to ensure that all households have enough water to ensure adequate sanitation. The way in which the residents of Stellenbosch and surrounding towns worked with the municipality to stave-off a water crisis in 2018, has helped the Municipality to now support the health and sanitation of our most vulnerable residents at this time of crisis.
The DA applauds the sterling work done by mayor Van Deventer and the DA caucus in Stellenbosch Municipality. It is only due to years of consistently excellent financial management and good governance that Stellenbosch is now in a position to implement these groundbreaking measures to support residents of the municipality.
Shockingly, however, both the ANC and EFF voted against the relief measures for residence.
The actions of Stellenbosch exemplify the DA difference: a caring and responsible government that delivers excellent services, saves money and keeps debt low during the good times, and then uses those savings to put power back in the pockets of the people during a time of crisis.
Stellenbosch is not alone. DA governments across the country are actively working on finding financially responsible and effective ways of combatting the impact of the coronavirus crisis on communities, businesses, and individuals.
Dr. Leon Schreiber MP
DA Constituency Head: Stellenbosch Municipality