DA press conference gets heated


A press conference hosted by the Democratic Alliance (DA) outside City Hall on Thursday morning, witnessed dramatic confrontations after disgruntled party supporters, led by former DA PR councillor Knight Mali, started gathering with banners calling for the removal of the party's Eastern Cape leader, Athol Trollip.

The briefing came after the Metro opposed the party’s request to protest against President Jacob Zuma’s visit in the lead-up to the African National Congress’ (ANC) manifesto launch at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium this coming Saturday.

“We applied for the picket last week but this was turned-down yesterday which you could argue was by design. We then applied for it to take place at the Donkin, but this was also rejected for security reasons,” Trollip said.

“This [cancellation] shows that government has clearly become paranoid to defend the indefensible. We have had six mayors and six municipal managers since becoming a Metro which is an indication of chaotic instability… yet the ANC are trying to obviate the damage it has done by bringing its manifesto lunch to Nelson Mandela Bay”.

A group of DA-clad supporters, holding up banners with the words #DANotSeriousAboutRacism and #DARacismMustFall, then started gathering on the opposite side of Vuyisile Mini Square as Trollip was addressing allegations of racism and corruption within the party.

“He [Mali] is clearly a ploy of the ANC and has regularly proven that he is more aligned with the ANC than the DA. It is ironic that he is here today where the DA is not allowed to gather, but his group, masquerading in DA colours, are allowed,” Trollip said.

“The ANC is desperate that they are going to lose this city hence they are holding their manifesto launch here. We are not going to allow Knight Mali and his group deter us”.

In February, the Port Elizabeth High Court ruled that Mali, who was suspend for reportedly bringing the party into disrepute, be reinstated, a move later contested by the DA.

Responding to claims made by Trollip in an interview with ANN7 shortly after the briefing had concluded, Mali remarked that the group had become concerned of the levels of racism within the party, and that “we can no longer work with people who dehumanise us”.

“I intended to become a whistle blower inside the DA, instead I was removed,” Mali said, before referring to the controversy surrounding DA councillor Chris Roberts, who was fined R10 000 by the party in January for calling United Democratic Movement (UDM) councillor Mongameli Bobani a bobbejaan during a caucus meeting in July last year.

Roberts later alleged he had made the comment in jest after Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan had wrongly pronounced Bobani’s surname.

“We do not agree with Athol Trollip’s candidacy and more and more people will stand up to demand that the DA get rid of racism in its ranks,” Mali remarked.  

Quizzed about the of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) dropping its investigation last month into allegations that Trollip and members of his family made racial comments at former employees on their farm near Bedford, Mail stated he has encouraged the complainants to appeal the decision and take it further.

The allegations, made by Mali and controversial ANC councillor Lawrence Troon in a series of papers leaked to the Saturday Dispatch in January, resulted in Trollip suing both for defamation of character to the tune of R2-million.

Mali, along with another former DA councillor Mzukisi Ncamani as well as the group present, no longer after confirmed they had joined the ruling party at an impromptu briefing where ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte was speaking.

“We are saying enough is enough. We are going back home to the ANC and will encourage other members to all do so, Mali said.