Talk of the town

A special report from Stellenbosch Municipality’s council meeting and a look at what it will take to get Stellenbosch firing on all cylinders again. Danie Keet brings the latest local updates from Stellenboschnews.com.

From the council chambers

In a special council meeting convened at short notice on Friday 11 September, two matters of urgent importance to the Stellenbosch municipal community were discussed.

Cheaper parking in town

Paid parking, which was suspended when lockdown started, was reinstated when the parking service provider for the municipality resumed operations in off-street locations such as Stelmark on 7 September. Operations for on-street locations was resumed on Monday 14 September.

The council approved a reduction in parking tariffs of about 20 per cent which will come into effect on the 21st of September. The lower tariffs follow a public participation process which ended on 27 August. This means that in future parkers will pay R8,00 per hour for parking, with the first 30 minutes in off-street zones free, and further reductions for long-term parkers in off-street zones.

The reimplementation has already influenced parking availability in the centre of town. On-street parking, taken up by long-term parkers in the absence of parking charges, is becoming available again. This development has been welcomed by small business owners in the area.

Delegation of powers to mayor Gesie van Deventer revoked

The delegation of council powers to the mayor was revoked at the special council meeting. The use of these delegated powers,  approved by the council before the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, was not without its controversy. The mayor, for example, came under fire for decisions she made about salary increases for herself and other councillors and bonuses paid to municipal directors.

She retained these powers even after council meetings resumed. A motion to have them revoked, brought by Councillor Derick Hendrickse (EFF) at the council meeting on 17 August 2020, was voted down

e’Bosch focuses on future heritage

The e’Bosch Heritage Project, known for their efforts to build bridges between different social and cultural groups in and around Stellenbosch, has announced a new communication and funding plan.

“The e’Bosch initiative has of necessity flown under the radar for the last six months, giving us the opportunity to innovate and revisit our objectives, and the outcome is exciting. We have established management and an integrated project framework that includes a new communication and funding plan. We are blessed with a strong management committee and are ready to face the challenges brought on by Covid-19.” says Sias Mostert, e’Bosch director.

“Covid-19 is still keeping us apart, threatening the progress we have made with e’Bosch. However, Covid-19 also exposed the dire need for food and livelihood security,” Mostert says. The aim of e’Bosch is to strengthen the fabric of social trust to enable everyone to achieve their full potential, while celebrating their own heritage. One can argue that technology through social media fills this need, however, reaction is limited and superficial, barely a proper response to real needs.”

Reopening of tourism industry not for the faint hearted

Hein Koegelenberg

September in South Africa is more than the start of spring, the celebration of our heritage diversity and a communal love for the braai, it is also tourism month. Never before has tourism needed a dedicated month as much, but right now, this valuable industry needs much more. Does government’s recently introduced Covid-19 response tourism sector recovery plan have the answers?

International tourism has come to a standstill, especially in a long-haul destination like South Africa. The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer indicated a 56% drop in year-on-year tourist arrivals between January and May. This translates into a fall of 300 million tourists and US$320 billion lost in international tourism.

And while global tourism is under severe pressure, the impact is even more marked in a country such as South Africa where the foreign currency of international guests is such a valued commodity. The extended lockdown, ban on alcohol and curfews have also had a serious effect on local tourism. This is no surprise. When the priority is to stop a highly contagious virus, socialising and travelling are risk factors and hospitality would always be in trouble. But the world is slowly returning to some kind of normal and we need to find ways to stop the bleeding of a once-booming industry.