Tempers flare at DA briefing as ANC NMB councillor disrupts

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 23, 2016

A press briefing hosted by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on job creation in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday, turned heated halfway through when controversial African National Congress (ANC) councillor, Lawrence Troon, interjected with accusations directed at the party’s Metro mayoral candidate Athol Trollip.

Maimane had been answering questions on Vuyisile Mini Square outside City Hall on a number of points when Troon, who had been standing in the background, stepped out from the contingent of media and DA supporters waving affidavits claimed to be those of the farm workers racially abused by Trollip and members of his family on their former farm near Bedford.

He said he wanted to personally ask Maimane about the claims against Trollip and what he plans to do about it.

“Don’t come and disrespect us here,” a visibly annoyed Maimane said as Troon nearly came to blows with a DA security members and the party’s Youth Chairperson Yusuf Cassim.

“He [Trollip] has abused his farm workers and is coming here to mislead the people of this Metro. We are telling Mmusi Maimane he is puppet and we know he is not going to do anything. He thinks the people of this Metro are stupid,” Troon shouted.

Troon, who along with former DA PR councillor Knight Mali were sued by Trollip for R2-million earlier this year for defamation of character, continued hurling comments as DA supporters chimed back by enquiring on the state of the Metro’s old age homes falling underneath his control.

He however ignored this, yelling “Athol Trollip abused his farm workers,” with one DA member asking “do you think this is progressive? Go back to school” while another asked whether he was drunk before questioning his integrity.

In March, the South African Human Rights Commissions (SAHRC) announced it would no longer be investigating the allegations against Trollip, as it was based on claims made before the SAHRC was established.

“We had issues of pre-jurisdiction so based on that the commission decided to drop the complaint,” SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena was quoted as saying at the time.

Troon however remained unshaken by his actions, telling journalist at an impromptu sitting on the steps of City Hall that the DA’s gathering presented the ideal opportunity to raise the matter. Asked why no briefing of the party’s own was called, Troon turned his attention to the media, accusing them being biased towards the DA.

“On the many IDP meetings we have called, the media never turned-up. It is clear that you are openly biased towards the DA. We have therefore come to the point [that] the biggest opposition to the ANC is not the DA, but the media,” Troon said.

He went to describe Trollip as being full of promises “yet he cannot even build one running toilet in thirty years”, before admitting that he is representing the workers on his own behalf and not the ruling party.

Troon however shrugged off any suggestions he had a person vendetta against Trollip, saying the matter deals with the very heart of the DA.

“Trollip abused his farm workers. What does the DA do? They pay him to be the mayoral candidate. At the heart of the DA is racism. Nine of out of the ten people who uttered racist comments in our country, belonged to the Democratic Alliance (DA),” he continued.

“The SAHRC did not vindicate Athol Trollip at all. The SAHRC merely said the matter falls out of their jurisdiction. The matter will be appealed at the Human Rights Court on behalf of me and the farm workers”.

Prior to Troon’s disruption, Maimane remarked that while the country has made progress since 1994, the release of the latest unemployment figures has left the country’s economy in crisis.

“Today, 8.9-million South Africans have lost their jobs… the equivalent of many countries and the size of the entire New York State being unemployed,” Maimane said.

“The ANC likes to defect it on the cycle of commodities and international climate, yet countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are growing faster than us. What we have is an infective city”.

Maimane said the ongoing controversy surrounding Executive Mayor Danny Jordaan, whom he again referred to as a part-time mayor, indicates that he is only focused on the ANC and defending President Jacob Zuma, instead of looking out for residents.

“We need a mayor who is focused on job creation and most crucially, this city needs to be a hot bed for micro-enterprises. Big business and small business needs to complement each other and in Nelson Mandela Bay, infrastructure in gaining this is a problem”.

“Nelson Mandela Bay needs to have a vibrant tourist hub. We need infrastructure, service and leadership that will attract tourists. Our objective is that once we remove President Zuma and his cronies, of which Danny Jordaan is one, we can get a government in here that will create jobs”.

Addressing the recent controversy surrounding the resignation and eventual withdrawal of the party’s provincial chairwoman Veliswa Mvenya, Maimane said she had been going “through a difficult time personally” and that she is in the process of “considering what she wants to do”.

“The reports of political infighting are absolute nonsense. It is a personal matter. She said she wants to reconsider and we have given her that option. I want to reaffirm that this matter is receiving attention and I am comfortable where we are at this point, and we will take forward from there”.