Cape Town - In the latest twist in the battle between DA and ANC politicians over connections with Cape underworld figures, controversial Sea Point businessman Mark Lifman has been dragged into the mix after he was photographed with ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman at President Jacob Zuma’s birthday party in Athlone.
Lifman’s legal adviser, Vincent Phillips, said his client was reserving his legal rights after being branded a “dangerous gangster” by the DA.
Lifman became embroiled in a political spat between the ANC and DA after media reports suggested he was a VIP guest earlier this month at an ANC rally in Athlone, where Zuma was celebrating his birthday.
DA Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer this week issued a hard-hitting statement referring to Lifman as “a dangerous gangster” who “does not belong at a rally with the president”.
Meyer said Lifman was the subject of several investigations.
“Mr Lifman’s presence at the event is shocking. The ANC has been going around the Cape Flats telling people that the party wants to stop gangsterism, but the reality is that they have close ties with the Cape’s most notorious gang bosses,” Meyer added.
Meyer also ripped into the ANC over allegations that Lifman is funding the party. This meant the “ANC is essentially funding its Western Cape campaign with illegal drug money”.
Meyer said the DA now knew why the ANC was so opposed to deploying the army to the Cape Flats.
“If the army were deployed to combat gangsters, they would cripple the gangs’ ability to make profits out of the drug trade. And people like Mr Lifman would lose a lot of money.”
But Phillips said the DA’s press release was filled with unsubstantiated allegations, which were defamatory, devoid of any truth and an attack on an individual who had yet to be convicted in a court of law.
“It is a sign of utter desperation and the kind of electioneering the DA has gained notoriety for… Mr Lifman is a citizen of this country and free to support any political party of his choice,” he said.
Phillips added that Lifman’s rights, including the right to privacy and the right to having his dignity respected and protected, were strictly reserved in this regard.
Questioning the DA's obsession with Lifman's choices or whether he was invited as a guest, Phillips added that “the DA has been especially reticent when questioned as to the sources of its funding”.
He said reference was repeatedly made to the drug trade, gangsterism and other social ills, which he claimed the DA administration had failed to address and now wished to apportion to Lifman, “a respected businessman whose contribution to the economy of the Western Cape is considerable”.
Fransman categorically denied Lifman was on the guest list for Zuma’s party or that he was allowed on stage or that the ANC received funding from the businessman. “We did not invite him and, second, he did not give money to the ANC,” he said.
The ANC dismissed the DA’s allegations. “The ANC reiterates that the Vygieskraal rally was an open public event attended by more than 5 000 people and therefore it is not unreasonable to expect diverse people to have attended.” Challenging Meyer to prove his “concocted and foolish” allegations of funding levelled against the ANC, the party said it viewed the latest attempt of trying to cast aspersions on its leadership as the DA’s desperation.