Chaaban wanted DA's Seremane, tape reveals

By Wendy Jasson da Costa and Angela Quintal

Rogue councillor Badih Chaaban had visions of wresting control of Cape Town from the DA and he needed a "decent black man" to help him do the job and create a party with a national footprint.

According to the recording of a meeting Chaaban had with ID councillor Trevor Trout on May 2, the man was none other than then DA leadership candidate Joe Seremane.

In the recording Chaaban talks of how he had a two-hour meeting with Seremane.

"He's coming aboard, because I need a decent black man that served six years in Robben Island, that has got the credentials."

Seremane, however, never did grab the opportunity.

"Why should I have left a big national party like the DA for a party that is not even a regional party?"

Chaaban had continuously pestered him for a meeting, until he "relented out of sheer curiosity".

"I did not know who he was, but I keep an open-door policy. Better to deal with the devil you know, than you don't know."

The meeting occurred on the eve of the DA leadership elections in May when Seremane's leadership prospects remained uncertain. He said yesterday he was fetched at his office and taken to Chaaban's Milnerton home - an "imposing, huge mansion".

There he was told of plans to form a new party and Chaaban promised that he (Seremane) would play a prominent role in the new organisation.

"I gave him a hearing, thoroughly. I expressed no opinion," said Seremane.

Chaaban, who has been accused of enticing councillors to join his party, had not offered him any money.

However, Chaaban had pointed out that the DA was racist and Seremane did not belong there.

Seremane said he had made "no promise" to Chaaban and what he learnt about him afterwards made him realise he was not the kind of person he wanted to talk to.

On Friday, Seremane said he had continuously been targeted by people, even those in the Cabinet, to cross the floor because he was seen as a black man in a white party.

"I have been called a coconut. A house nigger."

But he said he was happy with his political home and called for political stability in the country and specifically in the Western Cape.

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