Back in 1992 the National Party under then President FW de Klerk held a ‘white’s only’ referendum that would lead to an end to apartheid and eventually, South Africa’s first all-inclusive one man one vote general election.

2,804,947 of the 3,296,800 registered ‘white’ voters voted in that referendum with 1,924,186 (68.73%) voting YES – 875,619 (31.27%) voting NO with 5142 (0.18%) spoilt votes.

A majority vote!

494,853 registered voters, for whatever reason, never voted so non-voters are really meaningless stats as their choice will never  be known. Because of the majority  YES vote de Klerk went ahead and started consultation with the ANC.  The rest is history.

The right wing accused the government of electoral fraud arguing that white South Africans had the right to rule themselves with Andries Treurnicht and his supporters proposing an independent homeland or volkstaat. But the majority had spoken and although some ‘Packed for Perth’ or other shores to escape the ‘Swart Gevaar’, the inevitable was accepted and a new South Africa was born.

Earlier this year a referendum of sorts under the banner of “Saving St Francis” was held. The purpose, to raise funds to reverse the declining infrastructure of the town by putting its future in the hands of the property owners rather than relying on a municipality already overburdened with having to deliver services to an ever growing poor and disadvantaged population.

The ‘referendum’ required that at least half (50%) of the property owners of St Francis PLUS ONE, would be required one way or other voted to decide for or against declaring a Special Rates Area (SRA). Approximately 840 YES votes (more than the required 50% + 1 voted for the SRA with some 100 property owners voting against. Again the non-votes are meaningless and cannot be claimed by the yays or the nays.

A majority vote?

Being a democratic country the result was surely straight forward, the majority of home owners were in favour of “Saving St Francis”. On purely financial terms, those who voted against the SRA represent just 7% of the rates payable to Kouga Municipality with the YES voters contributing some 60%! Again a democratic split in favour of the yays.

Last week the recently formed St Francis Bay Concerned Residents Association’s (CRA) legal team served papers on the Kouga Municipality naming St Francis Property Owners Association as second respondent and the Non Profit Company, third respondents.

What the outcome of any court action will be is anyone’s guess for we all know that the smallest technicality can swing the judge’s final decision in either party’s favour. What is not in question is that it is going to cost either or both the Municipality and or the CRA a lot of money. No doubt the Kouga Municipality has budget allocation for legal fees but what of the CRA? Word has it that their legal team is working for free (hearsay) but what if they have to pay the costs out of their own pockets if the judgement goes against them.

Andries Treurnicht at least came up with a possible solution (in his mind) to the 1992 referendum in suggesting a ‘volkstaat’, sadly the CRA has not come up with a single suggestion. Even so surely they can sit around a table with the SRA committee as suggested by Hilton Thorpe in a recent letter to St Francis Today and discuss a way forward that doesn’t see the legal fraternity benefit while St Francis grows poorer in infrastructure and decency.

Something has to be done to improve infrastructure and it needs to be done by the townsfolk, not the municipality who have been directed by Government to spend 80% of their funds with disadvantaged communities. It is extremely doubtful that if a similar vote were to be held in the future that the figures would be any different for it is apparent the majority want to see St Francis proper.

THE purpose of a Special Rates Area (SRA), which is based on international best practice, is to enhance and supplement municipal services and aims to achieve this through a co-operative approach in order to halt the degeneration of the area and facilitate upliftment, so promoting economic growth and sustainable development.