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Durban - Detractors of DA eThekwini caucus leader Tex Collins have finally succeeded in ousting him from his position.
Collins and fellow DA councillor Ronnie Veeran were sent packing after a vote of no confidence was passed at a caucus meeting in Durban on Monday.
DA KwaZulu-Natal leader Sizwe Mchunu said the motion of no confidence was passed by a majority vote.
“This decision was not based on one issue. The caucus members felt the party was not strongly represented at the executive committee level and that a new approach was needed.”
Mchunu denied that the vote was a result of the executive committee members’ ineffectiveness in dealing with issues, primarily the Manase report, at exco level.
“We would like to thank them both for the role they have played, but the party has decided that new leadership is needed,” Mchunu said.
The council Speaker, Logie Naidoo, said Collins and Veeran, who occupied the DA’s two seats on the city’s powerful executive committee, would become proportional representation councillors.
“I have not received official notice of the decision and we are cautious to pronounce on it until we have something in writing,” Naidoo said. “But if this is confirmed, then the party will have to put (forward) two new names to the full council.”
Political analyst Protas Madlala said the vote demonstrated there were “cracks in the party”.
“They may have thought these two were toothless and that comments Collins made about the Manase report placed the party in a bad light. But they should not have been removed for grievances like this, especially Collins, who has been a longstanding member and has worked hard for the party.”
Madlala said he believed the DA had made the two councillors “sacrificial lambs”.
“They are probably preparing for 2014 national and provincial elections, so they want to put young people in exco seats to attract the young voters.”
The Mercury has reported previously that young turks in the DA have made two unsuccessful attempts to remove Collins, the most recent of these in July last year.
At the time it was reported that Dean Macpherson and Warwick Chapman, a ward councillor for Umbilo and Glenwood, wanted to unseat Collins. They denied, however, that this was the case.
It is understood that both would be strong contenders for Collins’s position.
Asked on Monday if he would make himself available for one of the positions, Macpherson said he would “consider his options”.
Chapman referred questions to Mchunu.
Last month, Macpherson resigned as chief whip after he fell out with Collins. In his resignation letter, Macpherson said he was stepping down because of the growing perception among eThekwini residents that the DA, particularly in the executive committee, was failing to address the big issues facing the city and failing to hold the ANC to account.
Sources, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said there were communication problems between the party caucus and its exco members.
“It was felt that a breath of fresh air was needed. There was a call for more robust debate on issues, especially at the executive committee level. It was also felt that there was a bit of a heavy-handed approach from the exco members and some issues were downplayed when they were discussed with the caucus.”
Collins took flak recently after he was quoted in The Mercury’s sister newspaper, The Sunday Tribune, as saying he would not risk losing his job just to reveal what it was that he had read in the Manase report. He said that he had taken an oath not to disclose what was in the report, which has been kept under wraps by the municipality for about a year.
A meeting is to be held next week to elect the DA’s new caucus leader and exco representative.
Collins and Veeran remain in their positions until then.
The pair will take a hefty cut in salary, from a package of between R45 000 and R50 000 a month to between R20 000 and R25 000.
Collins and Veeran declined to comment on Monday.