Exclusion of ACDP’s Kissoonduth from executive sees party withdraw from DA-led Tshwane co-governance
Pretoria - The multiparty coalition pact, signed by various political parties in August 2016, is in the balance after the DA mayor in Tshwane, Randall Williams, excluded an ACDP senior official from his executive.
The official, Alderman Anniruth Derrick Kissoonduth, served as MMC for community safety and health under former mayors Solly Msimanga and Stevens Mokgalapa.
The Pretoria News has learnt that Kissoonduth was sidelined a day after Williams had promised him a post as an MMC.
The sudden change of heart by Williams and the DA didn’t go down well with the ACDP national executive committee, which met last Monday to deliberate at length on the matter.
The committee resolved to withdraw itself from a co-governance agreement signed by Cope, the Freedom Front Plus, DA, ACDP and United Democratic Movement after the polls in 2016.
On Friday, the party’s leader Kenneth Meshoe wrote to DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille informing her about his party’s decision to quit the coalition agreement.
In the letter, which the Pretoria News has seen, Meshoe expressed regret that the DA failed to honour a multiparty co-governance agreement by not appointing Kissoonduth as part of the mayoral committee. It is believed that the ACDP’s withdrawal as a coalition partner could cost the DA the Knysna municipality in the Western Cape, where the party has 10 of the 21 seats in the municipality following the recent by-elections.
DA constituency head Dr Deon George had expressed the party’s intention to work with the ACDP, which has one seat, to take back power from the ANC, Cope and Knysna United Congress, which have been co-governing the Garden Route municipality since June. It is not yet clear how this turn of events will affect other DA-led municipalities such as Tshwane.
On Friday, the ACDP in the Western Cape hinted on its Facebook page that it was not prepared to work with the DA, saying it had been an unreliable partner. “The DA has a history of treating coalition partners as fodder in their pursuit of power. The disrespect to the democratic process of proportional representation is shown in the regurgitating of the line ‘don’t vote for a small party’, thus thrashing the voices of those whose ideology is in total opposition to the DA’s liberal brand of politics,” the ACDP said.
Kissoonduth, who is also the ACDP’s national treasurer, conceded that he was aggrieved by Williams’s stance after he was left out of the mayoral committee.
“My position in this matter is that firstly I am disappointed that I was not placed as an MMC because over the past four years my output speaks for itself. More so, the DA has reneged on the agreement signed in 2016,” he said.
The agreement was signed by five leaders of the parties, who included then DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
Kissoonduth represented his party during the negotiations of the co-governance agreement. He said that according to the agreement the decision to remove him in the mayoral committee had not rested with the DA, but with his party and coalition partners.
“To remove an executive of any political party it has to be done by the party (that deployed the executive) and not via any other way. The DA has reneged on the agreement. Now, I will continue as a councillor giving my best until we go into elections next year. If this is not rectified I will continue as a councillor and give my best in whatever committee I am serving,” Kissoonduth said.
Zille said Williams offered Kissoonduth a position in Tshwane as the chairman of a portfolio committee.
“This is the mayor’s decision, in law. Coalition parties are welcome partners in co-governance, but unfortunately cannot get to choose the positions they want.
“The alternative position received the same remuneration as an MMC and was in the portfolio of Mr Kissoonduth’s expertise,” she said.
Kissoonduth turned down the offer, demanding an MMC position. “That is his choice. Coalition governments should not degenerate into a trade-off for positions and perks. It has surely got to be rooted in a set of principles to provide an alternative to the corrupt ANC,” Zille said.
The ACDP’s latest move seemed like the party was more interested in positions than offering a clear alternative to the voters.
“This is unfortunate. Voters are increasingly becoming aware that voting for small parties often leads to unstable and precarious coalitions, where smaller parties run the risk of elevating positions above principles,” she said.
Regarding the possibility of the DA risking losing Knysna, Zille said: “In Knysna, the ACDP will allow the dysfunctional ANC-led government to continue. That will reverberate among the voters, to the ACDP’s cost.”