Cape Town - Grant Twigg will on Saturday morning hope to become the DA’s new Cape Town Metro chairperson with the backing of the party’s former leader, and current Premier Helen Zille.
Twigg has had an acriminious relationship with Mayor Patricia de Lille since she joined the DA in 2010, and the source of their latest fallout was when Twigg and four other councillors defied an instruction from the DA’s City of Cape Town leadership that Clive Justus be elected as the chaiperson of Sub-council 2 in November last year.
Twigg who had occupied the position since 2006 defied De Lille and made himself available for the position to which he was then duly elected.
Subsequently Twigg and the other councillors were suspended, and threatened with expulsion from the party but nothing came of that, their suspensions were lifted.
He says as Cape Town Metro chair he wants to increase the DA’s support in traditional ANC wards, ensuring that in 2019 that party gets below 50% of the vote.
Having grown up in Heidveld, Twigg says his single mother’s battle to place him in an English medium class in primary school was the first time he became aware of “difference”, in how people were treated.
He was moved to Kimberley where he started high school but one year after that he moved back to Cape Town after being expelled from school, and forced like many other young men of his age to seek employment.
He says his first experience of the labour market was sifting through letters at the Cape Toen Central Post Office in Darling Street. After that he went to work at Duens Cardora bakery
“That’s why I don’t I don’t have a liking for bread, because ek’s dik geëet van die brood (I’ve over-indulged on bread),” he says.
At the bakery he became one of the youngest shop stewards for the erstwhile Food and Canning Workers Union which later amalgamated into the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) where he was an organiser.
During the 1980s he lived in Langa, and then onto Mitchell’s Plain and later Kayamnandi in Stellenbosch until the unbanning of the ANC.
“In all of that time i was an ANC supporter and an ANC member,” says Twigg.
He moved to Delft and was the ANC chairperson for the area in the early 1990s, and with the changeover to a democratic dispensation in 1994 he had his first brush with the political reality of the day.
“When we were busy with the elections there was a bit of a fallout with the process because we were told that we had to make way for the comrades coming from abroad,” said Twigg.
Three years later he left the ANC and joined up with Bantu Holomisa and Roelf Meyer when they started the United Democratic Movement, becoming a proportional representative councillor for the party after the 2000 local government elections- the first under the democratic dispensation.
He quit the UDM in 2004, saying there was no space for growth in the party and joined up with Patricia de Lille’s Independent Democrats where he became the party’s Cape Town Metro chairperson.
He said things stopped being “nice” in the ID “when people wanted to be everything, they wanted to be the national leader...there was no room for growth”.
In 2005 before, a year before a DA-led coalition spectacularly unseated the ANC from power in the City of Cape Town, feelers were being sent out to Twigg
Former DA leader Helen Zille then approached Twigg to join the party, a move he says he never thought he would make.
“At that stage I was convinced that they were too white, (but) the discussion we had was to ‘give the DA a chance and make sure that you serve the people that you think needs the service, needs the attention’,” says Twigg of his talks with Zille.
He’s been a ward councillor in the Kraaifontein/Brackenfell area since 2006, Subcouncil 2 chairperson since then, also becoming the party’s caucus chairperson in the City of Cape Town.