Cape Town - While the DA welcomed would-be Cape Town mayor Dan Plato at the Civic Centre on the Foreshore, another bigwig quit the party charging that it used blacks and coloureds for window-dressing while its upper echelons remained dominated whites.
Former City of Cape Town mayco member for transport and urban development Brett Herron stood in front of the Salt River Market to denounce the DA’s caucus decision to halt the disposal of the site for social housing.
But his former colleagues in the DA caucus rejected his accusations, saying the project to turn the Salt River Market into social housing accommodation needed due diligence, and that he was only using it as a political prop.
DA councillors told IOL that instead of complaining about the stalled project, a decision that he was party to, he had to answer questions stemming from the Bowman’s report.
The report recommended a sanction against former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, indicating that she may have violated the Municipal Systems Act for preventing the city’s former municipal manager Achmat Ebrahim from reporting irregular payments for the Volvo Bus chassis.
Herron, along with Patricia de Lille, becomes the ninth councillor in just a week to quit the DA after the party’s caucus adopted the Bowman’s report which Speaker Dirk Smit indicated he would refer to the SAPS for criminal investigation.
Explaining his decision to quit the party, Herron said: “The Democratic Alliance is a lost party and a lost cause”.
In a jab at current DA leader Mmusi Maimane, Herron said during Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s time at the helm of the party, it had become known for upholding the law and rigorously defending due process.
“As a lawyer myself, these were heady days for the DA. Strong and incredibly principled leadership attracted many like-minded people to the party and made it a party I was prepared to campaign, fight and work for,” said Herron.
He said those DA councillors who earlier this year voted with their conscience to support De Lille when she faced a no-confidence motion earlier this year were hounded, this despite the fact that the party had gone to court to afford MPs the right to a secret ballot when it tabled a no-confidence motion in former president Jacob Zuma.
JP Smith, who Herron fingered as vehemently opposed to transformation, dismissed the claims, saying the Salt River project was stalled because the tender process was not transparent.
He also claimed that the former DA councillors who quit the party were being “paid”, and that their paymaster would soon become apparent when their bills were due at the end of November.
Chairperson of Cape Town’s transport and urban development portfolio committee Angus McKenzie, who Herron claimed had done the bidding for the DA’s white cabal in opposing the Salt River social housing project, said: “Brett is being disingenuous”.
McKenzie said the Salt River housing project had not be scrapped, insisting that the DA was for “bringing people closer to the city”.
He said the reason why the disposal of the Salt River Market to Communicare, for the construction of social housing, was halted was due to the procedural concerns around the process.
“That (was) related to the Municipal Transport Regulation and Evaluation issue, the second thing was what had come out in the caucus was that there were allegations of Communicare’s poor treatment towards tenants, the third thing was around inclusionary housing at the project,” said McKenzie.
For his part, Ward 115 councillor Dave Bryant who Herron accused of lobbying for the Salt River project to be blocked, said he had never voiced opposition to affordable housing.
“This was a caucus decision (to stall the Salt River Market disposal) and Councillor Herron was part of that decision and that decision was not to block the item, or turn it down. All it is, is that we’re simply referring the item back (to council) for one month because councillors want to apply their minds,” said Bryant.
ANC leader in the Cape Town council Xolani Sotashe said he had watched developments over the last week with a sense of bemusement and prescience.
He said the Bowman’s report, which was used to implicate De Lille, also implicates deputy mayor Ian Neilson.
“We took a decision in January, as a council, that all of those implicated in that report must be investigated, including Neilson. That report won’t say what is the view on Ian Neilson while we took a decision as council that he must be investigated,” said Sotashe.
He said, at the time when the transactions took place Neilson was the chairperson of the City’s finance portfolio committee.
“He would have known what was happening in terms of payments to BYD(Chinese bus company) and secondly it is alleged that he was in a meeting where something of these ‘funny things’ were discussed and he never raised (any protests), he kept quiet,” said Sotashe.
He said the reason the DA axed De Lille was because she posed “a serious threat to the white liberal agenda in the City of Cape Town” with her stance on redress.
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