A look at Gayton McKenzie’s year as mayor and what he achieved

21 December 2022 - 12:30
By Unathi Nkanjeni
Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie. File photo.
Image: SUPPLIED Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie. File photo.

Central Karoo District mayor Gayton McKenzie put his money where his mouth is to achieve some of the promises he made when he was elected this year.

The Patriotic Alliance leader celebrated his 100 days in office milestone and was praised by many for his hands-on approach to service delivery.

McKenzie publicly gave up his salary, refused a state vehicle, and told residents his services would not cost them or the municipality.

Speaking about his time as mayor, McKenzie promised to end blackouts in the region within nine months and turn it into “a Dubai” with an energy hub, using different methods including wind power.

Here are some of the promises he kept: 

Giving up his salary

McKenzie disclosed his payslip and payment records after allegations that he misled the public about giving up his salary.

The records show of the R22,557.55 salary McKenzie earned in April, he apparently paid R3,500 for a family to claim the body of their loved one at a mortuary, donated R16,000 to the Central Karoo Netball Club and donated R2,500 for netball tournaments.

McKenzie also spent R45,425 on suppliers and a clean water project for Leeu Gamka.

Removing red tape

In June, he announced Central Karoo was “open for business” and promised to remove red tape to allow small investors to start and grow businesses in the district.

“I want to invite all entrepreneurs to the Central Karoo. We will remove any red tape or someone asking you for a bribe before you can do business. We are going to build very special projects and implement special ideas from all kind of entrepreneurs,” he said. 

Building factories

After announcing an ambitious deadline of two weeks, he opened six factories in the region to create job opportunities. 

“Government is sitting with lots of unused buildings. Let’s allow entrepreneurs who work from homes to make use of them. It helps them to access new markets and more space and brings peace to complaining neighbours,” he said. 

Refurbishing local swimming pools

He refurbished local swimming pools, which residents complained they had been waiting for years to see fixed.

“I have not used any finances from the municipality, not a single cent. I don’t intend to use any money until I have helped stabilise the finances of the whole district,” said McKenzie.

Fixing infrastructure and turning to solar energy

He installed the first solar energy panels as part of Central Karoo’s energy programme.

“This is a big deal and lots of jobs are being created,” he said.

“We have six factories in construction, the first of 15 solar farms starting tomorrow, fixing all potholes, swimming pools and bucket toilets and zero government money. We encourage entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The municipality is bankrupt with no money.”

Getting prisoners to help victims of GBV

McKenzie, with the department of correctional services, got prisoners to help victims of gender-based violence (GBV) by rebuilding their homes.

“I want to thank the department of correctional services, my team in Central Karoo and the inmates for totally fixing the house of a victim of GBV. The house is brand new and no inmate tried to escape. Inmates should earn second chances. My heart is full,” said McKenzie.