Karasburg – It is not as easy as taking candy from a baby says Karasburg East Constituency Councillor Dennis Coetzee on being councillor.
Coetzee says since taking office about a year ago, it has not been a smooth ride because of high expectations from the people, while his office has no financial resources at its disposal.
In an interview with New Era he recalled the Komsberg flood that washed away grape workers’ reed houses and along with it a baby, in January, as a crucial testing time for him as councillor a few months after taking oath. “The Komsberg flood happened just after a month and this put a lot of pressure on me to make sure that everything went well,” he stated.
He says he did however manage to pass that test with the help of necessary stakeholders, as they managed to get the situation in order, whilst he continues working on better housing for workers.He strongly emphasised the lack of budgetary allocation to his office as a major problem, explaining that people are flocking to his office with high expectations, and most of them go there asking for any monetary help, and it’s painful as the office is unable to help many desperate and hungry people.
“As a councillor you have a conscience, and people come into your office and you listen to their problems attentively but at the end of the day you can’t do anything,” he stated.
He thus pledged his full support to the National Council to push the constituency development fund bill, so that funds are made available and regional councillors are able to have their own budget to help their people.
He is of the opinion that channelling funds to the councillor’s office will also help in the fight against poverty as people could use the money to start small income-generating projects and thus help alleviate poverty and hunger.
Coetzee says although people flock to his office looking for help, some don’t really have a clue as to what the councillor’s office does.
“People are coming here with relationship problems – as a councillor it seems that you are a pastor, politician, psychologist and everything,” he said, adding that some people refer to the office as a Swapo office, which he says is very wrong, emphasising that it is a constituency office.
He says the doors of his office are open for everyone irrespective of their political affiliation, adding that the office is not only for Swapo people, but for the whole community whether one is from a black or pink party.
Coetzee also stressed the need for positive criticism, saying people are fast to criticise without grasping the whole content of the topic they are speaking about and thus make statements that are untrue.
“Criticism not a problem, but as long as the facts are correct, because for me criticism builds a person, but it’s disheartening to hear people say things that they don’t know about,” he noted.