‘I want to help the people in Mitchell’s Plain’

Charlotte Williams.

With two decades of experience working in the Mitchell’s Plain community, being ward councillor, deputy mayor and leading an independent political party, Charlotte Williams is back in council.

Representing the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) this time, Ms Williams ranked third on their proportional representative (PR) list, gaining a seat in the City of Cape Town municipality in the recent local government elections (“Small party looking to make a difference”, Plainsman, July 27).

The party came third in five of the 10 Mitchell’s Plain wards and second in Ward 81(Portland, Rocklands and Westridge) with 297 votes.

The party won three seats (1.21percent) in the municipality.

“I saw how people live, their moral issues, substance abuse and the youth without role models, so I called up the ACDP leader in January and volunteered my services.

“I had no aspirations of becoming a councillor again,” Ms Williams told the Plainsman. “I want to help the people in Mitchell’s Plain. I just felt like I needed to help them.”

Ms Williams, from Eastridge, was first elected National Party (NP) councillor in 1996 for what was then called Ward C26, which is now demarcated as Ward 79, including Beacon Valley (south-east of Trampoline Street, south-west of Lord Street and Oval Street, north-west of Imperial Street and north-east of AZ Berman Drive), Eastridge (south-east of Imperial Street, south-west of Don Carlos Street and Alpine Road, north-west of Spine Road and north-east of Yellowwood Road), Mitchell’s Plain CBD and Portland.

In 2001 the NP merged with the Democratic Party (DP), forming the Democratic Alliance (DA), and Ms Williams was voted DA councillor for Ward 79.

Five years later the NP disbanded and Ms Williams joined the Independent Democrats (ID).

“I was number two on their PR list and became councillor,” she said.

She was a PR councillor deployed by the party to work in the Mitchell’s Plain Sub-council.

In early 2007, Ms Williams was appointed by the ID as deputy mayor, to then Mayor Helen Zille, from the DA, who formed a coalition with the ID.

“But I felt very uncomfortable as deputy mayor. I needed to be in the community,” she said.

Then floor crossing happened and Ms Williams remained with the ID but decided to step down as deputy mayor a year later.

“I was then Athlone sub-council chairperson but resigned in 2009. I stayed at home and continued to work in my community,” she said.

In 2011, Ms Williams led Community Coalition (Commco), who won 3 000 votes in nine Mitchell’s Plain wards, barely missing a seat in council, in that year’s local government elections.

She said it was not the plan for her to have a party because she is happy to serve leaders who have the community’s needs at heart. “We nogal did well,” she said.

But she said the party survived all of five weeks. “I continued working in the community and enjoyed being a house wife again,” she said. “I had no further political aspirations.”

However, while volunteering for the ACDP, she was inspired to run for office again.

“Now that I am back in council, which was not my intention, I will do whatever it takes to help my community,” she said. “I feel people deserve more,” said Ms Willams.

She has gained lots of experience and knows the role of a councillor well.

“There are so many issues that need serious attention.

“Looking at our youth, they are really the lost generation. They need proper role models. There are so many young people across the city on drugs. They need people who can motivate them,” she said.

While being interviewed by the Plainsman telephonically, Ms Williams was at a rehabilitation centre in Strandfontein, which had their water supply cut. She pledged to support them with something every month.

Since being elected, Ms Williams has been inundated with housing queries daily. “This is really a crisis,” she said.

Ms Williams, as a representative of the Mitchell’s Plain People’s Association, a registered non-profit organisation, for the last four years, has been privy to the planning of the second phase of subsidy housing in Beacon Valley, including 1 800 units. The first phase was Eastville Heights, along Alpine Road in Eastridge.

The next phase will be built on the corner of Imperial and Oval North roads; Morgenster and The Farm, which form part of the Beacon Valley housing project.

There have been delays and Ms Williams is hoping to get a seat on the housing portfolio committee, a committee she has chaired before.

“It is one of my passions and it (housing) is a great need in the community,” she said.

“I feel people deserve much more not only in Mitchell’s Plain, and the Cape Flats, but in the city in general. Housing is one desperate need. I can make input, I can make a difference and I will definitely do what I can,” she said.

While it is the prerogative of the party to deploy PR councillors where they see fit, Ms Williams is confident that she will be serving Ward 79, where she first started 20 years ago. She has been living in Mitchell’s Plain for 32 years.

“We should not let other people decide what is good for our community. We experience these things. My being back will assist the ward councillor (Solomon Philander of the DA) and the ward is privileged to have two councillors,” she said.

ACDP Western Cape head, Ferlon Christians, said based on the votes the party won in Ward 79 for Ms Williams and her rapport with the community, that determines that she serves Mitchell’s Plain.