Cape Town -
The election battle for the Western Cape turned nasty on Wednesday as ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman publicly insulted DA leader Helen Zille to her face on the steps of the provincial legislature in front of about 1 500 ANC supporters.
They had marched on the offices of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille at the Civic Centre and then the offices of Zille in Wale Street. Zille met the crowd on the steps of the legislature to accept an ANC memorandum.
But before presenting the memorandum, Fransman, speaking over a loud hailer, called Zille a “master of the politics of deception”.
To a background of jeers and boos from the crowd, Fransman accused her of being anti-poor, of having failed as premier and of being unwilling to personally use the government-issue portable toilets frequently found in informal settlements.
The crowd also waved insulting placards: one portrayed Zille as Pinocchio with the subscript “Premier Liar”.
Visibly irate, Zille was seen speaking sternly in Fransman’s ear as he spoke. Yet she was not afforded the chance to address the crowd, with an ANC member leading the toyi-toying and saying that he did not want to hear her “squeaky voice”. It was “her time to listen”, he said.
Fuming, Zille took the memorandum from Fransman and re-entered the building.
The memorandum accused the DA provincial government of “ignoring the demands of our people” and of failing on service delivery, fighting gangsterism and redressing land ownership in central Cape Town which, according to Fransman, remained in the hands of the “white elite”.
Asked to comment later, Zille told the Cape Argus the provincial government respected the ANC’s right to march, but she slammed the ANC supporters for being late, for shouting “voetsek” (go away) when she came to meet them at their request, and for denying her the opportunity to address them.
“After demanding that I address the marchers, the ANC and Cosatu leaders of the march denied me the opportunity to speak because they knew I would demolish the lies that Fransman… had been stating as fact.
“It is also ironic that they were demanding the release of land, which the national Department of Public Works holds, and on which the national department has not responded to our requests for three years.
“If I had been given the right to speak, I would have told the marchers that, at long last, the Western Cape government is making progress with securing the release of much-needed land from the national Department of Public Works in the city.”
One of the marchers told the Cape Argus about her hopes for the elections and the reasons why she supported the ANC.
Single mother Nomakula Mdygolo, 47, has been an ANC member since her youth and is a veteran of Umkhonto we Sizwe (the ANC’s armed wing during the liberation struggle).
She is unemployed and lives in a shack in Khayelitsha, where she does not have access to a flush toilet.
“We feel that the DA government has betrayed us,” she said.
“Zille is a woman like myself, yet I do not feel she understands my plight as a single mother trying to raise a child in these conditions.
“The toilets fill up with faeces, then come the flies and the disease. It is a terrible way to live and that is why I want the DA out of power.”
Mdygolo admitted that she was loyal to the ANC and would not turn on the party, even if it betrayed her.
Meanwhile, traders in St George’s Mall, Greenmarket Square and around the CBD hastily packed up as the marchers made their way up Adderley Street from the Civic Centre to Wale Street. Many were victims when a previous march turned ugly last October, losing their goods and cash.
“We are very angry,” said Mor Fall, of the square’s Traders Association.
“Law enforcement told me to my face that they could not protect us if there was looting. Now, who will pay for the lost money? Some of us stand to lose around a R1 000 because of losing half a day’s trading. The city must answer to this.”
Richard Bosman, executive director for safety and security in the city, responded: “Law enforcement officers were asked to inform the traders about the march taking place. At no stage did staff say they could not guarantee the traders their safety. Today’s march was very small with no more than 1 000 people present.”