BRETT Herron resigned from the DA almost two weeks ago. He did not mince his words in this tell-all exclusive interview with the Weekend Argus. Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)
It been a little more than two weeks since Brett Herron resigned from the DA and vacated his post as transport and urban development MEC in the province.

Herron, a lawyer, announced his resignation from the party, which he has served since 2009, during a press conference on November 1.

In a tell-all exclusive with Weekend Argus, he opened up about his decision to walk away from the party that he now refers to as a “waste of time”. Herron was returning from a weekend in Paternoster, 145km north of Cape Town, when he heard Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and said the song almost confirmed the decision he had already made.

“The last straw for me was when the DA blocked the Salt River Market and Housing project,” said Herron.

In 2007, the land was earmarked as “suitable” for housing, and four years ago the city accepted social housing giant, Communicare’s proposal.

Eleven years later, nothing has happened although Herron’s successor, Felicity Purchase, this week announced the city is planning to speed it up.

“I had heard for weeks in the corridors that there was this group lobbying to prevent it. For the last year I have been engaging with the people of Salt River, Woodstock and other communities about the need to address spatial transformation and affordable housing,” said Herron.

He did not mince his words when he stated: “The DA is not committed to the transformation or change that this country needs. They pander and pacify privilege.”

Herron said it was not one event that provided him with the clarity he sought to make him realise that he was in the wrong place.

“This has been coming for a long time. Numerous incidents and battles that I had to fight, led me to the point of realising that the party is not what it says it is. “I was there, I know.”

He remembered many events that happened within the DA that made him feel “uncomfortable” and he eventually realised that “the organisation is not what it claims to be and that it has been hijacked by the wrong people” and that all his efforts to influence what the party was doing, were in vain.

Herron initiated a campaign, “Where people live matters” and he said he could no longer, with credibility continue engaging with communities knowing the party is blocking projects.

“There are many people in the DA who do not believe high-value land in good locations can be used for the public good and, right now, the public good requires affordable housing in good locations.

“I have heard all the arguments, even from the premier herself that providing affordable housing on good value land means over-subsidising some families at the expense of others,” said Herron.

He said within the DA there exists a “skewed logic around the value of land and what should happen to it”. He drove home this point by citing the example of the Tafelberg land in Seapoint which was originally earmarked for affordable housing but the province did an about-turn on the project.

“From the moment I was elected ward councillor for the Woodstock, Salt River and Observatory area in 2011, Tafelberg was on that list.

“It had long been promised as a social housing site and the fact that it was sold to the highest bidder illustrates the attitude of some in the DA toward land and what its role is in our society.”

In March this year, the provincial government approved the sale of its Tafelberg property in Sea Point, defying public calls for the property to be redeveloped for low-income housing.

He also slammed the party for being quick to point to national government.

“Even the press conference that Bonginkosi Madikizela had last week. They were talking about Wingfield and Youngfield.

“Why doesn’t national government hand this land over for housing but the DA was not prepared to give up land for housing?”

Herron was very candid when he said the DA is kind of in a “schizophrenic” place because it needs to extend its voting base to govern in the city and the province and if it wants to govern in South Africa.

“They need to say the right things to poor black communities but they don’t say those things to affluent communities.

“They don’t confront fears head-on. They’ll say the right things if they are campaigning in poor black or coloured communities. When they are in an affluent communities, they soft-pedal that stuff.”

He added that there is “excellent” land in the Tableview area which could be used for affordable housing but alleged that the ward councillor there is very resistant to using that piece of land for affordable housing.

“Tableview is a growing hub of commercial activity. There are jobs, there is transport, there is land that has been set aside for affordable housing,” said Herron, once again highlighting the unwillingness of the DA to use “high value land” for affordable housing.

“I was the poster boy of the party in transport but when I raised housing and spatial planning concerns, I fell out of favour.

“There is an election in May 2019, I may participate but it won’t be with the DA,” said Herron.

For the moment, Herron is completing a Master’s degree through the London School of Economics.

He admitted, that while he has received many calls from many people, he has not aligned himself with any other party or person just yet.

The DA referred Weekend Argus to the City of Cape Town for comment.

At the time of going to print, no comment was received from the City.

Weekend Argus