Race row rocks councilComment on this story
WHAT was meant to be robust debate on the metro council’s budget took a racial turn yesterday 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 yesterday.
“We pay your salaries, expensive (body)guards, parties, air tickets and hotel bills.”
Beyers then warned “we are tolerating it at the moment but be careful to alienate or insult this part of the community”.
“If you continue to do so, those (Afrikaner) hands may one day close,” said Beyers.
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.”
The ANC had won the elections and was not handed the land by Afrikaners as proclaimed by Beyers, he said.
Beyers had earlier stated that Afrikaners handed over the land to the ANC in 1994, “without a threat of any sort from the ANC”.
Ramokgopa argued that there were middle-class blacks who were contributing positively 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 the point made by Ramokgopa in his budget speech on Wednesday that affluent residential areas were subsidising traditionally black townships.
“I was just confirming what he (Ramokgopa) had said in his budget speech,” said Beyers.
Although he was hurt by the mayor’s remarks, he would not take the matter further, Beyers said.
Meanwhile, the DA said yesterday that 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 yesterday after he was kicked out by Speaker Morakane Mosupye on April 26, said they could not fault the stated objectives of combating poverty, unemployment and inequality.
“We applaud the increase in capital expenditure to be more in line with that proposed by our party in the past. Without the essential spend on infrastructure we cannot hope to combat the many problems experienced by our residents.”
Topham said tariffs raised by the municipality affect the rich and poor across race boundaries.
“The residents, rich and poor, cannot afford this budget,” he said.
Cope councillor Kedibone Mathebe said at a “superficial level, the budget seems to be fair”.
“There might be challenges… some issues we agree on, some we do not agree to,” she said.
Mathebe said there were many challenges facing the municipality, including informal settlements.
“The majority of Africans are prisoners of hope. We are humiliating their dignity by providing them with poorly-built houses,” she said.
Mathebe said the authorities had failed to provide proper houses for people. “The roads are also poorly built and there is no proper infrastructure.”
Azapo councillor Mankoto Lesufi said the budget “is a fitting tribute to all the heroes and heroines (who died in the liberation Struggle)”.
“This is a pro-poor budget and we fully support it,” he said.
Lesufi urged the municipality to repair burst sewerage pipes and dusty roads.
ANC councillor Professor Titos Khalo said the budget and the capital projects to be undertaken by the municipality “are not pie in the sky”.
“This is a weapon for reducing unemployment and fighting poverty and inequality. This is a people-driven budget,” he said.