Flurry of DA councillor defect

Flurry of DA councillor defections to ANC ahead of elections

The DA’s former Cape Town Metro chair joining the ANC is the latest in series of departures from the DA to ANC in run up to the national elections. However, many DA members are celebrating as it appears those departing were simply jumping before being pushed.

Flurry of DA councillor defect

Democratic Alliance (DA) Cape Town Metro chair Grant Pascoe is the latest DA councillor to defect to the ANC ahead of the national elections this month, it was announced on Monday.

Pascoe was a DA councillor for 13 years and has also been a member of the mayoral committee since 2006. His defection is particularly significant because he was chairman of the DA’s powerful Cape Town Metro region and played a key role in developing the party’s dominance in Mitchell’s Plain, where it controls all nine wards. The DA’s support in the area has increased by almost 400 per cent.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement: “Councillor Pascoe joins an overwhelming number of South Africans, who despite finding themselves in other political parties, recognise the ANC as the only organisation with the track record, capacity and determination to build a South Africa which is united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous. Comrade Pascoe joins as an ordinary member of the organisation, and will assist our efforts to win back the Western Cape.”

But the DA responded by saying Pascoe was facing the sack for neglecting his party’s duties in his post as mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing. Mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille said he often did not attend meetings and when he did attend his lack of preparation resulted “in his inability to contribute in any meaningful way.”

“As he has chosen to take this action before doing me the courtesy of informing me, I can only assume that he has chosen to find a new political home due to his inability to live up to the standards required of DA public representatives. In light of the above, it is difficult to see anything beyond naked opportunism in such a once strident critic of the ANC so quickly joining them. I certainly hope that any future constituents of councillor Pascoe’s remember his points of principle, or lack thereof,” she said.

Ivan Meyer, leader of the Democratic Alliance in the West Cape, echoed De Lille’s sentiments: “The fact is that Mr Pascoe was imminently going to be demoted out of the Mayoral Committee (Mayco) in Cape Town for poor performance. He knew that things weren’t going well in his portfolio, and that he was going to be sacked imminently.”

Another Cape Town mayoral committee colleague said it had long been suspected by the DA that Pascoe had been responsible for information leaks to the media. “I’m willing to wager that there will be fewer leaks coming out of the mayoral committee,” said the senior councillor.

Pascoe responded on Tuesday to the accusations of incompetency by blaming Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, saying: â€œShe (Zille) is not sincere with the coloured people. If you disagree with the leader, you are then vilified and ousted… You could dare not disagree with the leadership and it wasn’t the same DA any more. Under Tony Leon you could disagree and he would take it on the chin. But there are many people who feel the way I do in the DA and they are the people (the DA) should be worrying about.”

Last month Beverley Abrahams, a Gauteng representative of the DA in the National Council of Provinces, defected to the ANC during a sitting of the Council.

In February, it was reported that four DA councillors joined the ANC, including Toni Molefe, deputy chief whip, and Siphoe Masigo, the party’s chairman in Gauteng. It is believed that four councillors in Tshwane are also set to defect.

However, many DA members have been celebrating these defections as it appears those departing were simply jumping before being pushed. This certainly appears to be the case with Pascoe, while a recent open letter from DA Member of Parliament, Manny de Freitas, suggests this was the case with regards to last month’s defection of former DA ward councillor Bev Turk.

“Without trying to be sarcastic or funny, I would like to sincerely thank the ANC for taking an ex-DA councillor away and swallowing her into their fold. I feel simply saying thank you to the ANC isn’t enough!

“For months now our internal DA legal processes have been trying to get rid of Bev as there were a number of racist allegations against her. Time was imminent in that our Federal Legal Commission was going to declare that she contravened our codes and was to be expelled from the DA.  Turk herself knew she was guilty, otherwise why would she be looking all over for a job?”

Despite this series of defections the DA last week won five out of nine wards in municipal by-elections, according to the Electoral Commission of South Africa.