Pretoria - DA federal chairperson Helen Zille has fired a broadside at ActionSA’s Tshwane ward 96 candidate Hannes Coetzee, saying his decision to dump her party for ActionSA three months after the elections smacked of dishonesty.
Zille laid into Coetzee, a former DA councillor who defected to ActionSA in January, ahead of today’s hotly contested by-election in Tshwane. The ward, which is a DA stronghold, includes areas such as Doornpoort, Montana, Walmanthal, Onderstepoort and Haakdoorn.
Ahead of yesterday’s by-election, Coetzee came under attack from Zille, who claimed he was not an honest leader.
During one of the DA campaigns in the ward, Zille said: “The man of honour does not stand for the election in November and walk away two months later because he is exhausted and two months later he stands for another party.”
On the other hand, DA Ward 96 candidate Gé Breytenbach was described as “a person of deep commitment” to his community. In response, Coetzee branded Zille a liar of note.
“It’s a lie. It’s just plainly a lie,” Coetzee said last night.
“I am the only politician in this country that voluntarily went for state security clearance, and that proves that I am clear with all my legal records, and I think the statement that she made in that video is a lie. I can prove to you that on my car track on my vehicle that everyday every kilometre that I am driving which is submitted to Sars every year, because she said I stole the photos. It’s a lie. What they are saying is not true at all.”
Coetzee added that he decided to keep quiet because Zille’s “lies will catch up, and they gonna have to pay for a day seven times more”.
DA provincial leader Solly Msimanga was dispatched to the ward to attract more voters alongside Breytenbach.
Both party leaders visited various polling stations across the ward to observe voting processes that started early in the morning.
Residents were warned by the DA not to cast their ballots in favour of ActionSA. The official opposition claimed Herman Mashaba’s party ”wants to open the door to the EFF”.
Breytenbach said: “When you vote for me as a councillor you can be reassured that I will always stand for the community of my home.”
Coetzee, who was ActionSA’s councillor candidate, criticised the DA’s choice of Breytenbach, saying the candidate lacked experience in local government affairs.
“Gé is a nice guy but he doesn’t have the track record that you can trust; he has never worked in a council and doesn’t understand local government. He was chosen anyway because he was the only candidate who lived in the ward.
“The DA thinks it can own your vote… that whoever they put forward you can vote for them anyway,” he said.
He said the DA had nowhere to be seen since it took over the city of Tshwane in 2016.
“Where was the DA over the last six years when the Rooiwal Treatment Plant was spewing sewage into our river system, reducing property prices and destroying agriculture? Where has the DA been since 2019 when the Pyramid substation burned down and caused countless outages and left us in the dark?” Coetzee asked.
The City announced that the refurbishment of the Pyramid substation was one of its priorities in the coming financial years.
One of Coetzee’s supporters at Haakdoorn Primary School yesterday said: “We are expecting a lot of work from him as soon as he is elected into office. You are all welcome to come and cast your ballot here, and vote for the councillor who needs to be in charge of this ward.”
There was a belief that Coetzee could snatch the ward from the DA, especially after his campaign was bolstered by last week’s resignation of DA Gauteng MPL Michael Shackleton, who also joined ActionSA.
Other parties that contested the wards were the ANC, the EFF and Freedom Front Plus.
Voting got off to a slow start in at least seven polling stations across the ward, with voters coming in dribs and drabs. Many residents were expected to flock to stations in the afternoon after knocking off from work.
At the time of going for publication, the counting of the votes was under way and the results were expected to be announced after the IEC had audited them today.