Having served for three years as councillor for Ward 31, Cllr Christopher Pappas has resigned from his duties. His last week as councillor was last week and this week he will be working towards taking on his new position as Member of Parliament for his part in the Democratic Alliance.
Pappas said he was elected by the Provincial Parliament and will be serving the citizens of KZN at a provincial level. “I have been truly blessed to serve the communities of Overport, Sydenham, Musgrave and Asherville. I appreciate all the support as well as all those who held me accountable. ” said Papas
He said his experience as a councillor was challenging. “People assume that you have powers like politicians in the American movies where they swoop in and save the day. However, you are limited to working with the tools that the municipality has available, constrained by budgets, and of course the law prescribes what you can and cannot do. At times it can be fulfilling and bring a sense that you are making a real difference in people’s lives. Other times you feel completely helpless because there is nothing you can do as a councillor. I have enjoyed serving my community and would do it again if given the opportunity.”
He adds, “The biggest challenges I have faced was trying to manage the extremely diverse community in Ward 31. There are so many different people living together which means that conflict is inevitable. One has to manage this but at the same time ensure that you stand up for principle at all times. Equally as challenging is trying to ensure services are delivered to all residents despite the declining state of
the municipality. Ethekwini is fast on the route to collapse if serious intervention is not taken by national and provincial government. Most people do not understand how the internal mechanism of the municipality works which means they have unrealistic expectations or get frustrated when things do not happen over night.”
Despite the challenges, Pappas said he has seen success. Pappas has been in various developments in his area which includes; a number of roads which have seen revised speed bumps increasing safety. He was also involved in the redesign of Lacey Road housing project so that no people would have to be relocated. “I have been involved in many community projects; setting up forums, constructing sidewalks, improving public parks and many more. We have tried to make a difference in Overport in relation to the dumping with many clean-ups and education drives. We also established the Berea Interfaith Forum which brings various religious leaders together once a month to discuss community development and social cohesion. We also started the process of developing a transport and precinct plan for the Sparks area which will hopefully alleviate the traffic issues” he added.
Pappas said he will always have a close relationship with the residents of Ward 31. “While I will not be directly involved in municipal service delivery, because I must allow the new democratically elected councillor the space to work, I will most defiantly be available to start taking on issues relevant to provincial government. I have a lot of mentors and people’s opinions who I respect and who have helped me, regardless of political affiliation, and I will try to maintain those relationships and strengthen them,” said Pappas. Going forward, Pappas said he aims to bring a new flavour to the Provincial Legislature in terms of oversight and service delivery. “I would like to take the skills I have learned in eThekwini and expand my knowledge of legislature, policy and governance so that I can try to improve people’s live in KZN. Once I am allocated a portfolio I will know better the direction that I will be heading but I have a keen interest in the areas of regional planning, local government, human settlements and agriculture,” he said.
“I think that my position will be equally as challenging but will be completely different. Local government is about bread and butter issues, eg. street lights, potholes, verges, burst pipes. Provincial government is more about policy, oversight and long term planning. I thing that the challenge at provincial level will be that you do not always see the fruits of your work in the form of a new development of a new speed hump being installed. The fruits of your labour are seen over a longer term and on paper,” he added.
Pappas said he would like to thank the residents for holding him accountable and all those who are passionate to get their hands dirty and improve the city. “Serving in an elected position should not be seen as a licence to extract yourself from a community but rather an opportunity to get more involved and to lead others to get involved. Secondly, always hold your councillors accountable but also be kind. A councillor is also only human, has a family and is subject to the same problems we have.”
He concluded by saying, “The city of eThekwini is in dire straights. Departments are collapsing, finances are not looking good and corruption is rife. Your councillor has little to no control over this unless they are part of a strong collective. Make sure you choose the new councillor who is part of a diverse, talented and skilled team that can turn the city around.” Ward 27 councillor Martin Meyer will also be joining Pappas at the provincial legislature.