Francois Geldenhuys

Independent candidate, Bitou Ward 2

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Janine Oelofse. Plettenberg Bay. 24 October 2012. 13h15. Businessman and family man who grew up in Plettenberg Bay, says it’s time to build bridges and restore the jewel in South Africa’s tourism crown to its former glory.

Francois Geldenhuys, should he be elected to the Bitou council on December 5 as an independent, will make history by being the first politician in South Africa to sign a recall agreement with his constituents.

His performance will be judged on a number of key areas and should he fail to deliver on his election promises, he will be obliged to step down and force another by-election.
Although such agreements are in place between councillors and their constituents in other countries, including a number of US states and Switzerland, South African politics has for the most part been driven along party lines with control of who sits in council firmly in the hands of distant party leaders.

Geldenhuys, 44, won a primary election in Ward 2 in Plettenberg Bay on Tuesday night after facing off against fellow independent and former DA councillor Johann Brummer. After addressing questions from the floor, constituents in the ward, which was formerly held by Charles Dreyer (DA), voted for their preferred candidate, with Geldenhuys garnering 94 votes compared to Brummer’s 68. By agreement, Brummer will now step down in the race and support Geldenhuys, who will face off against the DA’s Wayne Craig in December.
The seat in ward 2, considered a DA stronghold, became vacant following Dreyer’s untimely death a few weeks ago.

Geldenhuys, an accountant by profession, yesterday (Wednesday) said he had “been through the fire” a number of times in his dealings in corporate governance and felt he could add value and bring order to council despite the tough tasks that awaits him.

Should he be elected in December, Geldenhuys will sway the balance of power in what is now a hung council with the DA/Cope alliance and the ANC each holding six seats.

“I am a hard task master, but I am fair and I demand that everyone do their job properly and to the benefit of this town. Should I be elected, I will hold the balance of power and I have repeatedly said I will not choose sides along party lines. I will vote with my conscience and I will vote for what is best for Plettenberg Bay.”

Geldenhuys, who also plays a leadership role in his church, said he would perform his council duties with honesty and integrity, and wherever possible urge negotiation above litigation at ratepayer’s expense.
“Dialogue is key to problem solving and when there is a conflict, we should try to find solutions that won’t cost the ratepayers a fortune.”
He said it was time for the town’s leaders to run the town with the aim of attracting business, sustainable development and job creation.

“Right now Plettenberg Bay is lying in the intensive care unit and the heart that keeps our town going, the economy, is all but over. We need an incredible, fast moving, fast acting heart transplant like never before.”

Developers, he said were running from Plett because it was almost impossible to do business in the town but Geldenhuys felt it was time to open the door and invite developers and businessmen to share their visions and ideas with council.

Brummer yesterday said he would take a sabbatical from politics and “let Francois have a go”. He also thanked political observer Drewan Baird, who moderated the meeting, for his “interest and commitment to honest, open and transparent governance”.


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