Athol Trollip. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)
It’s been a while since we last spoke. In fact, our recent
meetings have all been centered around the discussions about coalitions and
co-operation post the 2016 elections and the management of these relations.
I remember how impressive you were during these
negotiations. You were strategically pragmatic, yet resolute that you would not
enter into a formal coalition with the DA. You were determined to maintain your
independent identity yet at the same time you wanted to expose and hold the ANC
to account for its corrupt ways. You defined the EFF apart from any coalition
arrangement and refused to be associated with any political party.
This principled decision to create a clear definition of the
EFF and unambiguous distance from any other political parties was an astute
political decision, I thought. What left a more impressive and enduring
impression upon me was the fact that when you gave your word, you stuck to it.
This is a quality that I admire greatly, especially amongst politicians.
They say that, “a week is a long time in politics”,
well, the past 19 months have felt like a lifetime. In this time we, [DA Nelson
Mandela Bay] have been in coalition with three other parties and have
co-operated on a level of growing trust with the EFF. We have made
extraordinary strides in improving governance and service delivery in Nelson
Mandela Bay. In fact, the latest Bustech survey shows us going from being the
2nd least trusted to the 2nd most trusted Metro in the country in just one year
We have also done especially well in exposing and stopping
corruption. All this has happened whilst working with a competent, confident
and hard working group of EFF councillors who have played their part as
opposition councillors exceptionally well and have outshone all the other
opposition parties in this regard.
We have also recently appointed one of your councillors to chair
the Municipal Public Accounts Committee. In all the time this coalition has
been in government, you have not once visited Nelson Mandela Bay as far as I am
aware, this perforce means that you would have no first-hand experience of what
is actually happening in this city. However, you do acknowledge that our
working relations have been good, that I have not, “Stolen any money and
that I am not doing a bad job”.
What is confounding then on the strength of the above is
that you have unilaterally decided to punish the DA, myself, this coalition and
the people of Nelson Mandela Bay ostensibly because we hold a different
ideological position to you on land and the offensive colour of my skin. These
two things have been unchanged and self-evident since the first day of our
discussions post the 2016 elections. In fact, you stated that you chose to
co-operate with the, “better of two devils”.
From one political leader to another, I think that you might
have made a mistake with your latest threat and that you might have misread the
national mood. If the DA had changed its position or my skin colour had
changed, you might have had reason for your change of heart, this has however
I believe that ordinary South Africans of all colours want
to be united behind a vision that promotes national unity, through non-racial
integration and good governance. Our country has not been better in this regard
since before President Mandela’s presidency and since his retirement.
I believe that our people want to work and live together,
get rid of corruption, grow the economy to create decent dignified jobs that
provide independence from government and to receive proper service delivery,
especially at local government level. I have felt welcome in every community in
NMB because the people’s priorities are clearly not racial division and hatred,
they are about better government and improved service delivery.
Nobody wants to, “cut the throat of my whiteness”,
nor do they want to return this city to the very people they voted out of the
office in 2016.
If the people of our country really and truly embraced your
radically divisive rhetoric, your political party would have got more than 6%
nationally and 4% locally. In fact, your performance in by-elections recently
shows that the people of our country do not espouse this racial invective.
So now instead of preparing to govern as an independent
political party with your own identity, you appear to want to hand this city
back to the ANC which they had tried by every means possible to ruin as per the
candid expose in Dr Crispian Olver’s book entitled, “How to steal a City”.
You used to call the EFF, “the government in waiting”,
now you want to give your arch political foe the city that rejected them, on a
platter. This looks much like a peace penance and perhaps the path back into
the party fold that you once swore never to leave.
Ours is a resilient nation that has experienced the worst
and the best that humanity has to offer. It is in this spirit that I extend an
invitation to you to visit Nelson Mandela Bay to show our people that you really
understand and care for their issues and hear from them yourself whether they
want the ANC back in government in their city.
Anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman used to say, “go
and see for yourself”.
Until you have come to see for yourself in Nelson
Mandela Bay and until you have explained yourself why you want to give this city
back to the ANC, your intentions will remain anathema amongst the people whose
political wishes you intend to disrespect by imposing your will upon them.
– Trollip is executive mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay.
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