Sub-council 21 held its first meeting after the local government elections at the Kuils River chambers on Tuesday November 15, and new councillor Malusi Booi was elected chair.
Mr Booi, who replaces former sub-council chairman Steven Mavuba, lives in Parklands.
The sub-council he chairs presides over wards 11, 14, 17, 19 and 108, a diverse mix of rich and poor neighbourhoods, including Zevenwacht, Sarepta, Kalkfontein, Wesbank and Mfuleni.
Before he became a councillor, Mr Booi worked in premier Helen Zille’s office as a community engagement officer.
Crime and housing top his to-do list.
“The crime issue is mushrooming and is also brought on by many people moving provinces or coming here from other areas to seek a better life,” he says. The challenge he says, is finding a way to “turn these issues around”.
Mr Booi hails from Engcobo in the Eastern Cape. He studied quantity surveying at Durban University of Technology and has worked in project management. He says Helen Zille recruited him in 2013.
Housing is one of the big challenges facing the area, but trying to meet the burgeoning need and build enough houses for backyarders, he admits, is like trying to hit “a moving target”.
“For example, in an informal settlement you will have five family members, and on one day one member is a backyarder and on the next rents a house or sublets the house he is allocated.”
He believes that given the challenge of trying to meet demands for housing with a tight budget, the country needs to “review” and “rethink” the way things are done.
He refers to the issue of sub-letting shacks on tenanted land as “shack farming” and says people need to be “taught the process of government”.
That’s where the sub-council can play its part, he says, by holding public meetings across its wards and “bridging the gap between people and bureaucracy”.
While he realises that the public often believe their councillors are hard to find after the elections, he’s determined to challenge that perception on his watch.
“We want to have an open-door policy here. We want to be approachable. From my side, I don’t have any job but to serve and direct the people where to go.
“Sadly, for the majority of people, they are not really aware of how government operates.”
He wants constituents to judge the sub-council on how well it listens and reports back to them. And the sub-council, he says, will measure its performance by the change it sees in people’s lives.
“After five years, we want people of this area to recall that their children have progressed academically, old citizens are treated well and the active economic population did receive the opportunities to work.”
Ward councillors serving Sub-council 21 are Desiree Visagie and Ricardo Saralina and proportional representation councillors are Charlotte Heynes, Malusi Booi and Zahid Badroodien.