It is with a heavy heart that the DA Johannesburg Caucus bids farewell to one of its young, dynamic, passionate and dedicated councillors, Cllr David Potter, after 12 years of service.
Cllr Potter’s resignation, though not the first in our caucus, comes at a time when many of our Councillors are reflecting on whether or not they will ever get the support of the executive and, crucially, high-ranking officials in the civil service or the understanding of their residents when the executive fails to deliver for the people of our City. The lack of service delivery, owing to political opportunism, sabotage, and coalition instability amongst other factors, and the constant blame – sometimes bordering on abuse – by frustrated residents at the receiving end of this lack of service, is too often too much to bear for many well-meaning and equally frustrated public servants.
The work of a councillor is by far one of the greatest honours bestowed upon a resident. It is the honour of being the first resident of a ward, representing the voice and views of all its residents.
Contrary to popular belief, a ward councillor does not possess executive powers, and can therefore only serve to hold the executive of the day to account, as well as drive issues as mandated by their constituencies, through the various avenues provided for in council. Their voice therefore, though it may resonate far and wide, is as effective as the government of the day, the accountability mechanisms in place, and the cooperation of many administrative officials.
The City of Johannesburg is currently without leadership. The current puppet mayor and executive are missing in action. The Speaker, who was instrumental in facilitating the ousting of the City’s last capable government, has conceded her bad judgement call, albeit not in so many words, in a scathing letter to the executive exposing their glaring absence at IDP meetings. The Speaker herself has failed to ensure the effective functioning of the legislative business of council. Many oversight committees fail to sit as scheduled for months on end, thus denying councillors this platform to demand accountability from the executive and for residents.
As Cllr David Potter hands over his baton for another Councillor to continue his service, we regret, alongside the residents he has dutifully served, this great loss. We pray and hope that the public representatives remaining behind will live to see a brighter day. That is what we are fighting for.
Cllr Potter was known by all for his unrelenting quest for systems reengineering and quality and efficient service delivery for his ward. He fought often with those in power without fear or favour, calling on the executive to import systems that have been proven to work in places such as the City of Cape Town. Indeed, he has fought the good fight.
David’s leadership in a complex and dynamic ward showed how politics can be about fighting to make life better for all. Ward 102 incorporates a critical central business district, the Region B Civic Centre, formal and informal trading markets, two taxi ranks, multiple city recreational facilities, a fire station, a sports club, the Randburg Sports Complex, multiple shopping centres and a variety of key businesses. To represent for so many years the diversity of these residents, but fighting for the shared desire for delivery, is a testament to what politics can be about.
Cllr Potter’s contributions to our caucus and to Council will be sorely missed. We wish him every success in his future endeavours.
The residents of his ward will not be left in despair however. The DA, as a party of dedication and grit, will ensure that a suitable successor is selected ahead of the upcoming by-election.
We urge all Ward 102 residents to not allow the wreckers in government to undo the service of Cllr Potter. The power of the ballot paper is the power to reject the corruption and chaos, decay and despair that the ANC and its proxy mercenaries have unleashed on the people of Johannesburg.