The African National Congress and Democratic Alliance bayed for each other’s blood today in arguably the most contested council, the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro.
The DA, which wants to wrestle control of the metro away from the ANC, was campaigning at Helenvale Primary School voting station, and the ANC called an impromptu press conference at the Florence Matomela House in Port Elizabeth.
There were counter accusations from both parties as they concluded what had been a busy electioneering season with high stakes ahead of tomorrow’s local government elections.
The ANC’s mayoral candidate for the metro, Danny Jordaan – who is also the president of the South Africa Football Association – lambasted the DA for using Nelson Mandela when campaigning, in what had been a burning issue between the two political opponents.
Jordaan said just like those who crucified Jesus Christ could not then turn around and say he was their hero, the DA could not claim Madiba.
“Some people would like to distort history and claim Nelson Mandela. You cannot reconstruct history and distort it. I don’t want to go to religion and say even the history of Jesus Christ had a particular beginning and an ending. You can’t take pieces of it and transplant it to another religion and say, he is our hero too. They hanged him and those who hanged him can never say, yes we hanged him but he was our hero too,” Jordaan said as he drew parallels between Mandela and Christ.
But another controversy issue that surfaced was a letter authored by Athol Trollip – who is the DA’s mayoral candidate for the Bay – which he circulated among staff members at the metro.
In the letter dated August 1, which had the ANC spitting fire, Trollip tried to allay fears among workers at the metro who were concerned they might be purged if a new government took over.
“I am aware that the fear of change could result in some insecurity among municipal staff. I want to allay this potential fear and insecurity by pledging that if the DA wins elections, we will treat each and every municipal staff member fairly and that we will encourage and promote a professional working environment for everyone without fear or favour,” Trollip said.
The DA leader invited the staff members who were committed to honest, clean and corruption free government to feel free “to work with us to give effect to our manifesto offer”.
Jordaan said he had instructed officials to investigate the issue of the letter and take appropriate steps.
The ANC’s Litho Suka, the chief whip of the ruling party, said Trollip’s letter was against the spirit of good governance.
“This thing is serious. The person who circulated this letter needs serious action taken against them. You cannot interfere with the staff of the institution in this manner. This is desperation of the highest order. We have instructed a senior official of the metro to make an investigation so that we can get a report and act against the one who flaunted the policy of good governance,” Suka said.
Trollip confirmed he had written the letter and that he had done nothing wrong.
He said he was allowed to campaign with every citizen of the Nelson Mandela Bay, including staff members of the metro.
On the comments by Jordaan that the opposition did not have a right to claim former President Mandela, Trollip said the ruling party should stop being cry babies.
“If the ANC can use Jesus Christ and say they would rule until he comes back, we can also use Nelson Mandela because we believe in his vision of equal society. The ANC must grow up. This is an election,” he said.
Vuyani Limba, regional task team coordinator of the ANC said he had no doubt that the people of the metro will “do it for Mandela” the international icon, and vote for the ANC.
Meanwhile Phumulo Masualle, Eastern Cape provincial chairperson and premier said they were confident of winning the metro.
“The confidence that the people have in the ANC is very much reassuring. Where we say we are going to win, we say so because of the strength we see coming from the people. Our emphasis is to pull out all the stops in ensuring that people go out and vote in their numbers,” said Masualle.