POLITICS

Maimane's Response To UDM Leader Bantu Holomisa

Your ultimatum seeks to hold our co-government agreement to ransom. It requests of us to maintain the status quo, despite the evidence of corruption.

25/08/2017 10:15 SAST | Updated 25/08/2017 10:18 SAST
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
The leader of South Africa's Democratic Alliance [DA] Mmusi Maimane.

This letter serves as a response to the letter from Mr Bantu Holomisa, entitled "UDM notice to pull out" and dated 24 August 2017.

At the outset let me state that the passing of a motion of no confidence in the Deputy Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay [NMB], Cllr Bobani, is no cause for celebration for me, or for any of the partners to our coalition agreement. I am grateful for the support of the other parties for the motion today, but I know it was also an agonising decision for them.

The firing of Cllr Bobani through a motion of no confidence is the painful end to a matter that has drawn out for nearly twelve months. However, we have no doubt that it was the right thing to do for the residents of the Nelson Mandela Bay, and particularly those residents who voted for an entirely different government than the corrupt and untrustworthy government that came before.

Indeed, the entire spirit and aspiration of our coalition agreement is to provide South Africa with the hope of a new beginning - one free of the evil of corruption and maladministration, and which puts the people first in all that we do. This is why voters voted for the parties that now make up our coalition, and we have a sacred duty to uphold that mandate without exception.

Unfortunately, Cllr Bobani has not adhered to the letter or the spirit of our coalition agreement in his personal conduct.

He has, on numerous occasions, openly voted with the ANC in Council, which I remind you is a flagrant breach of the agreement. He has set himself up as a member of the opposition inside the governing coalition - even undermining the recent State of the City report by holding his own, separate event and contradicting the Executive Mayor. He has even gone so far as to lay obviously spurious criminal charges against the government in which he serves, and has not yet withdrawn these charges. He has accused the government of which he is a member of illegally evicting residents, a charge that has been refuted both by the Sheriff of the Court and the Court itself.

I reiterate a point I have made many times: the removal of Cllr Bobani is not the removal of the UDM. It is merely the removal of one councillor whose values clearly do not align with those of our coalition.

Moreover, two separate forensic reports conducted by independent third party auditing firms have found serious prima facie evidence of maladministration, fraud, and tender irregularities involving departments directly under the operational and political authority of Cllr Bobani. Both reports have recommended that the Metro make an attempt to recover the funds involved and that criminal action be taken. I have furnished your good offices with full copies of these reports.

This situation clearly was untenable and has been for some time. Despite this, the UDM has consistently failed to remove Cllr Bobani and replace him.

I reiterate a point I have made many times: the removal of Cllr Bobani is not the removal of the UDM. It is merely the removal of one councillor whose values clearly do not align with those of our coalition. The UDM is still fully entitled and encouraged to take up a position in the Mayoral Committee in Nelson Mandela Metro with another counsellor of their choice.

It must be noted at this point that the coalition partners have jointly shown extreme patience and tolerance in handling this matter.

There have been numerous meetings on this matter over the course of nine months, a great deal of correspondence has flowed between us all, we nominated a three member multi party intervention panel, we called for substantive evidence of the various allegations de, and instituted the forensic audits referred to above. Cllr Trollip tabled detailed allegations against Cllr Bobani with substantive evidence, and despite our repeated calls, Cllr Bobani tabled no substantive response to these.

At one of our meetings the Leader of the UDM, Mr Holomisa had to leave to address another function. At this meeting, the other parties unanimously agreed that Cllr Bobani could not vote with the ANC in Council, and could not return to his position given the allegations against him.

Mr Holomisa has used this disagreement to race bait and has used language in public referencing apartheid style racial segregation and the like.

Despite this forbearance shown by the other parties, the UDM has consistently failed to take action against Cllr Bobani. All the while, the UDM has vocally campaigned for the removal of President Jacob Zuma for similarly destructive and unethical (and allegedly illegal) behaviour. The UDM has bemoaned the special protection which Mr Zuma seems to enjoy from his party, yet the UDM seems to offer the same special protection to Cllr Bobani. It would seem to any observer that Cllr Bobani's position in the UDM is similar to that of Mr Zuma in the ANC: everyone knows he is fundamentally at odds with the law and the values of the Constitution, but no one in his own party is prepared to remove him.

Worse still, Mr Holomisa has used this disagreement to race bait and has used language in public referencing apartheid style racial segregation and the like. This tactic is without basis, is divisive, and is contrary to the spirit of our coalition and our vision for South Africa.

Now let me respond to your letter directly:

As shown above, and as can be augmented with a detailed history of the meetings and correspondence that we have had, the charge that we have not consulted adequately on this matter is without substance. The UDM has had ample opportunity to act over many months and has consistently failed to do so.

The charge that we are "dictating" to the UDM is also without substance. Were this true, a motion of no confidence would not have been necessary. We have merely dealt with the violations of the co-governance agreement and the evidence of corruption before us. It is also for you to note that the ACDP and COPE voted in support of the motion today, and each of these parties has written letters to us demonstrating that Cllr Bobani was making the government unworkable.

Your ultimatum seeks to hold our co-government agreement to ransom. It requests of us to maintain the status quo, despite the evidence of corruption, and despite Cllr Bobani flagrantly voting against the coalition. This is unworkable and illegal in our view. It would make us no different to the ANC government we have replaced, and it is a betrayal of the faith voters placed in us to deliver a totally different style and ethos of government.

As for the DA, we cannot tolerate the kind of unethical conduct that Cllr Bobani has displayed. To borrow a phrase, I will not let it happen on my watch.

I still believe that we can find a way to heal the mistrust caused by this painful episode.

Accordingly, Cllr Bobani cannot be returned to his position as Deputy Mayor. I propose that in the interest of our continued relationship and the future stability of the co-government agreement, that the UDM nominate another councillor to serve on the Mayoral Committee. We will gladly support any other UDM nominee.

If you decide to go through with your ultimatum and collapse the government, then it will fall to you to explain to the voters of Nelson Mandela Bay and the people of South Africa, who have taken such strength and hope from our coalition, why you decided to return the ANC to government and protect the conduct of one man over the interests of the country.

However, I still believe that we can find a way to heal the mistrust caused by this painful episode, so that we may proceed as one and continue to improve the lives of our people. It is in this light that I make the proposal above. I reiterate, voters supported us precisely because we promised to root out corruption and deliver a new beginning - first for our Metros, and hopefully in 2019, for the country too. This is still our sincere desire. Despite this disagreement, I believe we can and we must find a way to continue to work together.

I recommit the DA to working together for the betterment of the people of South Africa, in full consultation and cooperation with the UDM and other parties.