What was meant to be robust debate on the metro council’s budget took a racial turn on Thursday when a Freedom Front Plus councillor stunned all with his rant and was branded a “racist and fascist’’.
“You eat out of the Afrikaners’ hands in this town. Without their rates and taxes you are nothing,’’ Conrad Beyers said on Thursday.
“We pay your salaries, expensive (body)guards, parties, air tickets and hotel bills.”
Beyers then warned “we are tolerating it but be careful not to alienate or insult (them). If you continue to do so, those (Afrikaner) hands may one day close”.
Tshwane executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa took offence at Beyers’s outburst. A visibly upset Ramokgopa said: “You are a racist and a fascist. It’s people like you who should be marginalised and ignored.”
Ramokgopa argued that there were middle-class blacks who were contributing to the economy. “I’m one of those middle class blacks who are economically active.”
Beyers told the Pretoria News that he wanted to stress a point made by Ramokgopa in his budget speech that affluent residential areas were subsidising traditionally black townships. “I was just confirming what he (Ramokgopa) had said ,” said Beyers.
Although he was hurt by the mayor’s remarks, he would not take the matter further, Beyers said.
Meanwhile, the DA said the budget “is in no material way different ideologically from that of the previous budget”.
DA caucus leader Brandon Topham, who took his seat in the council after he was kicked out by Speaker Morakane Mosupye on April 26, said the party could not fault the objectives of combating poverty, unemployment and inequality. Tariffs raised by the municipality affect the rich and poor across race boundaries “(but they) cannot afford this budget”.
Cope councillor Kedibone Mathebe said at a “superficial level, the budget seems to be fair. Some issues we agree on, some we don’t”.
Azapo councillor Mankoto Lesufi said
“”This is a pro-poor budget and we fully support it.”
ANC councillor Professor Titos Khalo said the budget was “a weapon for reducing unemployment and fighting poverty”.