Cape Town-120610-Mayco member Grant Pascoe. Reporter Kwanele Butana. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - Lies, bullying and a dictatorial style of leadership. These are the real reasons, says Grant Pascoe, for his move from the DA to the ANC.

“It was not because of money. I was not offered money. It was not because of a car. I don’t know anything about a car. I debunk that allegation by (DA leader) Helen Zille. As my parents would have said to me, it is a lie from the pit of hell. I want to challenge Helen Zille to bring me an affidavit and let the person who told her that come and say it to my face.”

Although it has been a couple of days since the former leader of the DA in the Cape metro announced that he was leaving the party and his position as the city’s mayoral committee member of tourism to become an ordinary member of the ANC, the dust caused by his shock decision shows no sign of settling.

Zille has alleged that the ANC approached several prominent DA members with lucrative offers to jump ship. One of these people reportedly told her that Pascoe had been offered R1 million and a car, which he had accepted. Zille has also alluded to “personal issues” and financial problems, which could have been the reason for Pascoe’s apparently sudden change.

Pascoe said he would lay open his financial status if Zille did the same. “It was never about the money. I wanted to leave the DA to join the ANC. This is what I met with the ANC about. They sent me away to talk about it with my family and to think about it. And then I made my decision.”

Zille said on Wednesday: “It is laughable to suggest I can manipulate mayoral (or any other elections) in the DA. Pascoe was not successful in his bid to be mayor, and he has been embittered ever since. If he denies that he and others were offered major financial incentives to cross to the ANC he should sue me, and we will bring all the evidence to court. If what I said is untrue, it is libellous, so he should sue right away. He won’t because he knows the truth.”

Pascoe emphasised that there had been no offer of a formal position in the ANC. The candidate lists for national and provincial government have already closed.

Pascoe said he would spend the next few weeks campaigning for the ANC and then he would start looking for a job.

But he is open to any offers his new political leaders may have for him. “I was ambitious in the DA. But I lost out due to manipulated processes.”

Pascoe was twice in the running for the mayoral chain, but he was pipped by Dan Plato in 2009 and by Patricia de Lille two years later. He contended that Zille manipulated both processes so that her preferred candidates would be elected.

In the first mayoral race, Zille was “sweating bullets” as Pascoe was a strong contender. But as a “deal had been done with Dan (Plato)” he stood no chance of winning, he said.

And De Lille needed to take the seat in 2011 so that the DA would get the Independent Democrats’ votes.

“But still I went on as a loyal member of the DA.”

Pascoe said he would redirect this loyalty to the ANC. “I am committed to working hard in the trenches. If the ANC structures want it, I would love to play a major role (in the party).”

When asked about his decision to move to the ANC, and not one of the other opposition parties, Pascoe referred to his start in politics as one of the ANC’s national youth commissioners in the late 1990s.

“I have always been active and have always expressed my views. The DA no longer offers an opportunity to express myself. There is no room for personal opinion anymore. We can’t have our own opinions as we could under (former DA leader) Tony Leon. We could tell him, ‘you are being a jackass’ and he would say, ‘fine, that’s your opinion’. Under Helen Zille it’s dictatorial and if you disagree she will send her minions to attack you from all sides.”

He said the party had become so centralised in its leadership that all decisions were being made to please Zille.

“When I felt I could no longer offer my opinion, I decided to leave. Despite what the DA says, Luthuli House does not dictate to its structures.”

Pascoe had only good things to say about his “incredibly professional” team in the city’s tourism and events directorate. “They have been professional under difficult circumstances. They have been bullied by (De Lille’s chief of staff) Paul Boughey and been subjected to three forensic investigations which were a waste of taxpayers’ money. All this has broken their spirit.”

The low morale extended throughout the city administration, with huge levels of distrust in the executive management team, he said.

“The dictatorship in that administration is breaking the spirit of people who have been loyal and worked there for years. They are no longer loyal to the DA or the administration. Now they are holding on for dear life.”

Pascoe said the organisation had gone from “bad to worse” and as morale dropped, so too would service delivery across the city.

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Cape Argus