We all know that the political arena is as murky as a crocodile pond. I’ve discovered, and shared with you, that local politics, in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, is as dirty. There are good and bad people on either side of the spectrum.
Here enters a story that links our two towns via the ongoing battle between the ANC and the DA for control of the Garden Route. Further linkage is entrenched by Theuns Botha (DA Provincial Leader) naming Ralph Stander in the bribery scandal. Ralph is a Knysna resident, businessman and the highest ranking ANC member locally. He is accused as one of three ANC members who attempted to bribe Nevelle De Waal, a DA Councillor for the Bitou Municipality.
As i’ve sat with most politicians in Knysna, i’ve met Ralph on numerous occasions so was quick to discuss the situation with him. He emphatically denied the DA’s claims and was disturbed by the fact that Die Beeld had published the DA’s press release almost verbatim. They, he claims, did not contact him for his viewpoint. That disturbs me too as media bias has gotten out of hand in South Africa and, in pursuit of money-making headlines (or 3rd party interests), they only inflame a South Africa that wants to flame.
I don’t know the truth of the situation. It’s possible that so-called Operation Reclaim is above Ralph Stander’s pay grade. Maybe it doesn’t exist at all. I simply don’t know. I’ve battled to get truth out of numerous politicians (think Georlene Wolmarans, Michelle Wasserman etc) and, on most occasions, failed. Local politics is certainly not for the people. And this issue is “way above my pay grade”. I utilize italics mockingly because i believe that citizens, unequivocally, have the right to the truth.
But i do believe that both sides should be told. To the end, on the local front only, i’m publishing Ralph’s open letter rebuttal as it’s unlikely to get the headlines the DA’s press release was given. But first you should read the DA’s links so that you gain a fuller picture that assists you making your own mind up. Maybe you’ll be like me and still need to know more.
The DA’s press statement can be read here.
The full accusations can be read here.
Note that i also contacted Nevelle de Waal after the proof given by the DA was a 2-and-a-half line email sent by Nevelle to Liz Mundell (DA Chairperson in Bitou – note that i have no idea what her title means) who then forwarded it to Jaco Loodt. You can read it in the link above. What was odd about the lines is that it had no preamble or afterward, placing it in context i.e. as if he was told to send it. That is pure supposition but it is certainly weird.
Again, i do not know the truth of the matter so all i can do is present to you, the public, a rounder picture. I asked Nevelle if he’d be signing an affidavit and he said that he would not which, effectively, clears Ralph Stander legally and gives foundation to his threat below to sue the DA.
Ralph Stander responds to Theuns Botha’s claim that he is part of a ANC operation called “Project Reclaim” which supposedly bribes DA officials:
I was inundated with calls from people (which included DA councillors and leaders) about the DA’s press statement which implicated me and other ANC members with bribery for a clandestine, James Bond type of operation entitled “Project Reclaim”.
I was astonished by my name being mentioned because the allegations are as fictional as the project that I have never heard of. Part of me wishes to laugh at the absurdity but this is a serious allegation which prompts me to respond not only for myself but for my family, the people that I represent and the organization that I love.
It is appropriate to address Mr. Theuns Botha as it was he that issued the false statement. Mr. Botha, it is unseemly that I should have to remind a veteran politician that checking facts is required before issuing a press statement. The fact is that I am an ANC PEC member who has never been an ANC regional leader, in Bitou or any other place. Secondly, Ralph Mapondo is not and never was the ANC Chairperson in Bitou. Thirdly, but more importantly, the allegations are untrue which questions your true agenda and political machination.
Did I meet with Nevelle de Vaal? Yes but you misrepresented the nature, substituting subterfuge for benign reality. In the real world, I met Nevelle on numerous occasions…maybe as many as a thousand times…none in secret because we are friends. We have known each other for more than 25 years, beginning with us being in the same class in high school.
I have many friends in other parties (yes, the DA too – “sorry”, I never knew that that DA had forbidden it). My dear friend and mentor, Reverent Chris Nissen, taught me a long time ago, when Kidron Kaboni went to the DA, that your friends stay your friends no matter what party they belong to. I would much prefer to think that we are all South Africans and that our democracy allows us to debate with our opponents and our friends.
Did I say to Nevelle that he should leave the DA? Yes, I did. Now don’t use that as a quote to misrepresent me. I told him on numerous occasions that he doesn’t belong in the DA. In fact, I have told all my friends in the DA to leave the DA, the same way people in other parties have, many times before, told me to leave the ANC. Did they break the law by trying to persuade me to leave the DA? No, of course not. Did I break the law by telling Nevelle, or any other person, to leave the DA? Definitely not. That is not only part of the nature of politics but understandable when standing up for a personal belief.
Now, onto the peri-peri sauce you threw onto the braai you made. Did I attempt to bribe Nevelle with R900 000? Sjoe, that’s a lot of money. I can think of a thousand good things to do with that but none would include giving any to a DA councillor. To make it very clear, I did not bribe Nevelle de Vaal.
Since you enjoy fantasy, you may not appreciate this truth: There’s no need to bribe non-white, DA councillors because it is general knowledge that they are most unhappy in the DA which, in the Western Cape, has gained the infamous nickname “UA” (Undemocratic Alliance).
The DA’s shiny-new, black parliamentary leader does not alter the fact that the DA is the same racist party that it was. It still looks after white interest and only uses Coloured and African people. More and more people’s eyes are opening to that fact. Which non-white DA councillor has any say in policy matter or in the running of their towns? Non-white DA councillors and mayors hate being DA councillors. They were trapped by DA lies.
Many have already indicated that they are fed up with the racism and discrimination in the DA. They are fed up of being micro-managed from Cape Town. They are fed up of being told and instructed what to do, who to appoint or who to fire. They are fed up of having no say in the running of the DA and their respective councils. They are fed up with baas Theuns and madam Zille.
In light of the above, this “stunt” by Mr. Botha is actually a well thought of move. It is a “preemptive strike”. It is designed to scare, into submission, any disillusioned DA councillor who might be thinking of leaving the DA. They are threatening them with breaking the law and the councillors’ code of conduct. These DA actions give more validity to the strong rumors that the DA has a blacklist of “BAD” DA councillors whose phones are tapped and their movements monitored? “Bad” is DA-speak for “won’t do what the baas or madam told without question”.
Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me if this is also meant to serve as a deflection away from DA mistakes and troubles. The DA has egg on its face in Bitou (Plettenberg Bay). They were extremely vocal with regards ANC crimes. After being advised not to go to court, and their subsequent promise that the public would not foot the bill, they lost a case on 6 points whilst racking up R1million in fees. The Council then went extremely quiet except for when the Speaker, a DA member, rightfully offered to resign as a result of this debacle (initiated by him), Theuns Botha stepped in and told him not to resign. Not to mention the case of the ex-mayor’s car which the DA splashed across SA (and on Carte Blanche) only for it to be discovered that the DA had lied in saying that they had returned it.
In my hometown of Knysna, there is major dissatisfaction after the DA never followed through on their election promises of truth, transparency and open-door policy. Here, they wasted millions of Rands by when they offered the previous Municipal Manager, Mr. Johnny Douglas a golden handshake without the money being budgeted for that. Isn’t that illegal? There have already been many service delivery protests this year, because the DA is not interested in providing services to Coloured and African areas.
At Eden they have fired senior personal without any good reasons and are now facing law suites of millions of Rands. As matter of fact the DA has spend millions on court cases and it is not getting any better. Everywhere I travel, I am people are coming complaining about all the bad things that are happening under DA control and how sorry they are that they voted for the DA.
If any DA councillor is fed up with subservience to the likes of Theuns Botha and Helen Zille then they should do the right thing and resign. Depending on the situation, they can even seek justice through the courts or lay criminal charges against those who instructed them to break the law. If the DA is so confident about their support they would fire those “tainted” councilors and show the ANC and the world that they are the Top Cat in the Western Cape. They will never do that because the people won’t be fooled twice.
I’m challenging Mr. Botha to charge me and all the others whose names were mentioned. It’s not as if we are going to sit back and pretend this attack never happened. Personally, I’m seeking legal opinion on the irresponsible and false allegations against me and will seek damages from Mr. Botha. I’m also calling on the ANC to get the Public Protector to investigate all these serious breaches of the law by Mr. Botha and the DA.
Ja Mr. Botha. It’s a new South Africa en jy kani maak en breek soos jy wil nie. It is no surprise that some DA members feel unwelcome in your party.