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Cracks emerge between DA and 'political' eThekwini Ratepayers' Protest Movement


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Cracks emerge between DA and 'political' eThekwini Ratepayers' Protest Movement

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11th December 2023

By: News24Wire


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They once shared a goal - to hold the African National Congress - Economic Freedom Fighters (ANC-EFF) coalition in the eThekwini metro to account - but now the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the eThekwini Ratepayers' Protest Movement (ERPM) are butting heads.

Feeling that the movement has crossed into the political arena, the DA has distanced itself from it. The party believes that there's heavy influence from ActionSA and it has also taken issue with a meeting that involved the EFF. 


This is according to sources who are privy to the differences between the party and the movement.

ActionSA recently called a meeting in eThekwini with all political parties, except the ANC, against the backdrop of the DA's Section 34 idea to dissolve the council. But the DA didn't attend due to the EFF's presence, according to a source.


The DA vowed that it would not get involved in political business linked to the EFF.

But ActionSA provincial chairperson Zwakele Mncwango accused the DA of "arrogance" and said the party needs the EFF if it is serious about collapsing the ANC.

ERPM chairperson Asad Gaffar wrote a letter to DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers, provincial chairperson Dean Macpherson, as well as national leaders John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille, after the DA stayed away from the meeting, which was scheduled for 30 November at St Olav Church in Musgrave.

In it, Gaffar told the DA leaders that the movement had to address the issue with them.

He wrote: 

The last few weeks [have] seen a push to open discussions with all opposition parties in eThekwini. Whilst we acknowledge that a 'moonshot' pact may have been signed, having additional discussions aligned to the very core principles can only strengthen the campaign. In the ERPM [councillors] WhatsApp group, of which the DA was willingly part of, ActionSA called for a multiparty discussion.

To keep the meeting neutral, Gaffar said, the ERPM "offered to host the meeting and at no point did the DA indicate that it would not attend."

He said there was a "reasonable expectation" that all parties involved in the consultation would attend the meeting. 

"But to our collective disappointment, the DA did not attend, and no apology was provided. At the time of writing this communiqué, no explanation has been forthcoming. Subsequently, ERPM reached out to facilitate a bilateral meeting with the DA. This was rejected.

"We then noticed that most DA councillors left this WhatsApp group en masse. This clearly [was] an instruction from the leadership. As ERPM, we take this action as the DA [is] not willing to work with ERPM."

He added that it was clear that the DA was only willing to work with organisations "that are willing to toe the DA line". 

The party is not open to critique, therefore how will it progress?

Referring to the DA's 28 November Section 34 motion to dissolve the council, Gaffar said the movement was "naturally" interested.

He said it reached out to several parties for clarity regarding the DA motion, and to date, they have not received any.

"It must also be pointed out that this motion is set to fail," Gaffar added in the letter.

In a letter responding to Gaffar's invitation for the meeting with all parties, DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers sought to emphasise the importance of the DA's agreements with opposition parties and to keep the already-existing "structure of collaboration".

"It would not be appropriate for us to now contribute to a parallel process outside of those collaborative structures that have already been agreed upon," Rodgers said. He told Gaffar that his proposed process was already in motion and that the DA was contributing to it.

"In addition, I wish to point out another important aspect that we have to consider, which is the involvement of the EFF in your proposal," Rodgers said.

The EFF question 

Rodgers told Gaffer that the EFF was party to the "crisis" and "mess" that is eThekwini Municipality.

"We have no intention of handing them a 'lifeline' under the circumstances and would therefore not contribute to any proposed collaboration that includes the EFF or the ANC." 

In a subtle manner, Rodgers suggested that the civic movement was becoming political and said that in all engagements with civic organisations, "we have always steered away from involving civic structures/ associations into politics and respect the apolitical nature of these associations".

He added: 

It would be inappropriate for us to now engage with civic associations on a political matter that belongs in the political sphere and it is our view that neither of us should steer across those lines. This matter should be left to be dealt with by the leaders of political parties. We do, however, encourage a bilateral discussion with your organisation at any time you see fit to discuss matters of mutual interest that fall within the domain of civic affairs. For the reasons set out above, we respectfully decline the invitation and accept your invitation for a bilateral meeting at any time you see fit.

Meanwhile, a source close to the developments, said ActionSA's hand was visible behind ERPA's latest comments, which are seen as "hostile" by some DA leaders.

Speaking to News24, Gaffar said the movement was "apolitical".

"However, with that being said, as a ratepayers' association, we are playing in a political space whether we like it or not. We find ourselves in this current situation as a result of poor leadership (political), and as a ratepayers' association, we will not hesitate to hold any political party to account."

He lambasted DA leaders as "childish" for seeing the movement as an opposition. 

ActionSA's Mncwango said: "You're playing games if you don't want some parties but want a majority decision. In eThekwini, there is no motion that can pass without the EFF."

Mncwango said the DA snubbed the request because it was "not prepared to remove the ANC".

"We've discussed .... how do you elect a new leadership once you've removed the ANC. They're worried they can't govern with other parties," Mncwango said. 

Approached for comment, Macpherson said: "No one has said [the ratepayers' movement is] opposition. They have assumed that themselves. Zwakele [Mncwango] is the only one playing games by insisting the EFF must be part of the solution to the crisis they have created."


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