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Ousted DA Councillor Rashied Adams claims peers turned on him because of race

Dec 12, 2017
Ousted DA Councillor Rashied Adams claims peers turned on him because of race

Ousted Democratic Alliance (DA) Councillor for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Ward 1, Rashied Adams, on Tuesday told a press briefing that his removal was the result of a plot by senior party members, who saw an opportunity to get rid of him when he fell on hard times, as they felt he was not the right race to represent Ward 1 residents.

Adams told journalists that he had been a member, an activist and a leader in the Democratic Alliance for seven years before the party spat him out.

"I have worked hard for the party within its student, youth and mother body structures. I have often made many personal sacrifices for the plight of the people who entrusted the party and me to govern and lead, be it at university or municipal level," he described.

"I may be young, first elected to public office at the age of 24, making me the youngest Ward Councillor to have served Nelson Mandela Bay, but I am not naïve or weak.

"There has been a plot to remove me from Council from as early as June this year."

Plot to remove him

"Earlier this year, I experienced some financial difficulties, for personal reasons, which I do not wish to disclose. I have explained the situation on a few occasions to a few senior colleagues of mine in Council, who at the time, I thought, were genuinely concerned. They were well aware of the domestic matters that had set me off financially," Adams said.

"Now understand, there has been a plot to remove me. Some other colleagues in Council raised the concern of me not being white in a predominant white Ward; others have informed me that the new administration is compelled to deliver exceptional services to Ward 1, as it is a traditional stronghold of the DA and many of the party’s donors are residents in the Ward. The true reasons behind my ousting remains speculation to me."

He said that from the onset, he had not been the most favourable candidate for the Ward, "but unfortunately, to my critics, I made the cut".

"I scored highest among all prospective candidates within the DA who stood to be the DA’s Ward 1 candidate for the 2016 Local Government Election. I have a track record of service and leadership," Adams said.

"The Executive Mayor, Cllr Athol Trollip on one occasion told me that my election caused a rift in the Party. It was an uncomfortable situation for many, for months. To me, I did not care, I made the cut and I don’t have time for racial or racist agendas. I had a Ward to govern."

'Senior colleagues really wanted me out'

"My senior colleagues, who really wanted me out and plotted this ousting for months, saw an opportunity in my financial situation," Adams explained.

"The plan was simple. Smear Rashied’s name in the media and then fire him as he would have brought the Party into disrepute. They started with their plan. On the 27th June this year, the Chief Whip of Council, Cllr Werner Senekal, informed me that there will be an article about me in the Weekend Post and it will speak about my drug and gambling addictions and that’s why I don’t have money and that’s why some of my friends have assisted me with my situation.

"Now bear in mind, I have previously informed the Chief Whip of my situation and of the truth. He told me to direct all media enquiries directly to him and that he will deal with them – and so I have done, when Michael Kimberley from The Herald called me.

"The allegations of me having these addictions was the Mayor and Chief Whip’s position. They said this is why he is in a slight financial problem and this is what the position is in terms of dealing with me through the media. This was the first time I heard about these allegations, which by the way are untrue and baseless.

"I informed the Chief Whip that if the article proceeds, I will sue the Herald. To my surprise, the Friday evening before expecting this Weekend Post article, the Chief Whip called me to say the article had been retracted."

Adams said that on the 7th July this year, DA Caucus Chairperson, Cllr Retief Odendaal, paid him a visit at his office to offer his support in assisting with major matters in the Ward; and that as a PR Councillor, he had been assigned to Ward 1.

"In that very meeting, he informed me that he was the person who stopped the article and that he was aware that certain colleagues were feeding the media trash about me.

"As the recent months passed by, I have received similar media threats left, right and centre, with the same narrative, I had to do what I did, politically, to have beaten all of them.

"There was a time that I wanted to resign, but the only reason I never went that route was to hold the coalition government in power. There was a time in Council where one Councillor could have shifted power in the Metro. I stayed in favour of the thousands of voters who rejected the ANC and entrusted the coalition to govern, something I never took lightly," Adams described.

Moved out of his office

Adams said that he has since moved out of his office, physically, as "I was systematically replaced towards the grand finale of my oust. Cllr Leander Kruger was parachuted in, to the Ward 1 Office to ‘augment’ my work".

"He was assigned all powers and privileges of the Office. Now this guy was my Whip, he under the directive of the Chief Whip now ran the show in my Office and quite arrogantly. He was protected and I was kicked to the curb. So he was made Ward Councillor of Ward 1 and I was effectively removed to act as the PR Councillor," he said

"Out of respect to my seniors, I gave Kruger his space and I worked like every other PR Councillor, without a Office. I can proudly say that I have served my residents and I have brought my side as a Councillor, I have never missed one Council or Committee meeting."

Offers from opposition parties

"In fact, there was a time where opposition parties made me big financial offers to assist in overthrowing Athol Trollip as Executive Mayor, but I remained principled and committed to what we were entrusted with – to govern and to govern better than the previous administration. I have genuinely played my part. And the Mayor knows this very well," Adams said.

"I have received threats from the Executive Mayor, I have been through hell and back. On the 27th of November, I had a meeting with the Mayor in his Office about my financial recovery and in general, how it’s going with me. He always told the DA Caucus to make time and speak to him about anything – and so I have opted to meet with him.

"In that meeting, ahead of the Council meeting of 30th November where he faced a motion of no confidence, he assured me that, and I quote, 'you are not left in the woods'. He said all is good, the hatchet is buried and that I should continue on the trajectory I was. I think I was just massaged, as he needed me to survive that critical motion."

Failure to pay party tithe

He told journalists that DA councillors pay a monthly tithe to the Party that goes off as a stop order on their salaries.

"The money to the Party in question was my candidate fees. That is something that was dealt with internally and I only skipped one payment. The party was unreasonable with accepting that last payment, perhaps to have used it to remove me as they have," Adams said.

"The tithe matter is a lame excuse. I had to wake up to a newspaper report yesterday that informed me that my DA membership was terminated and that I had no opportunity to appeal. By the way, Herald, your article says I was not available for comment, but Siyamthanda, one of your journalists interviewed me via whatsapp on Sunday.

"Nevertheless, Cllr Andrew Whitfield was under pressure to have me removed quickly by his uncle Athol. I believe Athol is his uncle.

"It is alleged that I am useless and don’t work. Now put aside my Office situation and what I had to endure there. There’s genuinely DA Councillors who do not work. The Caucus consists of some Councillors who are drunk all the time and do not serve residents, but nothing happens to them; there are Councillors who are stay-at-home Councillors, but nothing happens to them; there are Councillors who run other businesses, which they may legally, but put their Council duties second, but nothing happens to them. It makes one wonder what was the real agenda behind my removal. Was it indeed a matter of the rift my election has caused in the Party among the Old Guard? I don’t know."

'Threatened, undermined, used and abused'

Adams claimed that he has been "threatened, used, undermined, mentally abused and was given stumbling blocks, one after the other".

"That’s perhaps politics, but like I said, I am young, but not naïve or weak. I am street smart and know exactly how the underworld of politics works," he said.

Adams said that he is happy that he did his job although many service delivery issues remain unattended.

"...there’s still a lot of problems inside the Municipality, both politically and administratively. I have done my absolute best under very dark circumstances."

He said that he will continue to serve the community as he has done since the age of 14 years.

Interruption

As he concluded his speech, he was briefly interrupted and asked about the money he apparently owed Ward 1 residents, some of whom had gathered outside the City Hall.

"What must be the political bankruptcy of the Nelson Mandela Bay DA, when a media conference is gate-crashed with the explicit intention to attempt to embarrass a former colleague cut off in the midst of responsibly addressing the very financial difficulties used by the DA to oust me!" Adams said.

"I have specific financial commitments. I am addressing it.

"Imagine DA councillors and ward committee members trusting a councillor with financial assistance, and then turning on that councillor when no longer in office! Can it be that the DA members felt that by the office of a debtor they were to be advantaged, and that in the absence of that office, they no longer can benefit from their leverage?

"It would never have worked that way at all, my former DA colleagues! It would never have worked that way at all. You have indicated the subtleties of political manipulation in a crystal clear manner this afternoon. I needed assistance; I wasn’t for sale – is that the real reason for ousting me? 

"Tragic. Telling. Shame on you, Councillor Kruger. And on your posse. Shame on you. True colours showing. True colours showing."