Fresh off Twitter: How the ANC in eThekwini abuse public money

by The Editor

FEATURE: Not more than an hour ago there was a huge argument between the DA and the ANC in the eThekwini council over a proposal to send an under 15 soccer team to South Korea: the ANC said two councillors should accompany them, then, when the DA opposed the idea, increased the number to five, unilaterally voted in support of their amendment and ignored a legal opinion in doing so. Here is an account of the story as it happened in council and told through the Tweets of three young DA councillors: Warwick Chapman, Mbali Ntuli and Nicole Graham.

Fresh off Twitter: How the ANC in eThekwini abuse public money

By: Gareth van Onselen

20 June 2012

Here follows a powerful illustration of how the ANC randomly abuses public money for the sake of perks and privilege. The story is told in a set of Tweets from three young DA councillors – Warwick Chapman, Mbali Ntuli and Nicole Graham – all members of the eThekwini caucus, and occurred not more than an hour ago. The relevant tweets follow at the end, but first an overview.

Essentially the story is this: it was put before the eThekwini council today that an under 15 soccer team from the metro be sent to South Korea, at the expense of the council (in other words, ratepayers would fit the bill). I do not know which team but, I assume, it was all in a good cause.

However, the ANC proposed that two councillors should accompany them. The DA proposed an amendment to the proposal, which argued that council should indeed support the team’s trip but that there was no good reason to send councillors to accompany them (they have no business there and would effectively be site-seeing). This would constitute an obvious abuse of taxpayer’s money.

As it so happened, the DA’s view was supported by a supplementary legal opinion obtained by the council which argued that any decision which had potential financial implications for the municipality needed a full cost analysis before it could ratified, which the trip did not have, so further investigation was required.

You would think, then, the matter was dead and buried.

You would be wrong.

Because the DA raised this as a concern, the ANC responded with an amendment of its own – that the number of councillors accompanying the team be raised from two to five. The Speaker of the council – the ANC’s Logie Naidoo – having allowed the ANC to motivate for the idea and denigrate the DA, then proceeded to shut down a series of DA speakers who rose to speak against the amendment, which, it appears, was proposed with the sole intention of spiting the DA. (You can read Warwick’s speech here.)

With council breaking for a recess, the ANC, as if this was a political rally, resorted to singing and dancing, chanting that they would impose their will, as they were in charge. Any pretence this was about how best to spend public money long since having been abandoned.

On returning to the House, the ANC, as is its want, turned the matter into a racial issue, accusing the DA of trying to prevent Africans from enjoying “government perks” – to quote Mbali Ntuli. And then, as if to bring a completely bizarre close to a completely fantastical episode, the ANC councillor Mapena suggested that only black members of the sports committee would accompany the team to Korea, “no whites”.

The ANC voted in its amendment, ignoring concerns about any potential extra cost to the public and the council’s legal opinion in doing so.

Such is the ANC’s attitude to public money – to your money. No doubt the DA will pursue the matter further. Certainly it will be interesting to learn how much the trips cost. Perhaps a matter for the Public Protector to investigate – HANSARD itself should reveal there was no good reason for the expenditure other than to try and satisfy the ANC’s insatiable thirst for perks and privileges. And the fact that it ignored a legal opinion would also seem to render the entire decision null and void.

Here follow all the relevant tweets on the matter from Warwick, Mbali and Nicole, in chronological order, from the earliest at the top to the last one at the bottom. Follow their timelines for more.

@NicoleGraham031: “eThekwini are sending an u15 soccer team to Korea. Oh, and 2 councillors to ‘accompany them’. Our amendment to scrap it voted down. ‪#fb”
@NicoleGraham031: “ANC now moving an amendment to send *five* councillors to Korea with a children’s soccer team just because we complained. OUTRAGEOUS! ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The ANC is bending rules right in front of our eyes. LIVE. I cannot believe this. Things voted against but now rules being reversed ‪#fb”
@mbalimcdust: “A simple matter of sending a youth team to South Korea has now become a debate of how many ANC cllrs should accompany them ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The opposition parties ruled against cllrs randomly going but yes to the youth. The ANC will only allow it if cllrs can go too ‪#fb”‬
@mbalimcdust: “What’s the point of council if decisions can just be over turned or rules can be changed at the whim of the ANC ‪#fb‬”
• ‏@mbalimcdust: “The speaker is refusing to allow @warwickchapman to speak after allowing 6 other ppl to speak. ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The speaker is making @warwickchapman withdraw his statements. The speaker is clearly now abusing his position. ‪#fb‬”
• ‏@warwickchapman: “Speaker of eThekwini, Councillor Logie Naidoo is an undemocratic bully. He is a brilliant debater, and an abysmal, unfair speaker.”
@mbalimcdust: “Where is the media? @SundayTribuneSA @City_Press @mercurysa @dailynews This council is a complete farce today. ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “We have stepped out for a 5 min recess. The ANC is now singing and dancing saying they are charge and they will make their will known ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The ANC now refuse to allow us to discuss the matter after our recess. This should have been televised. ‪#fb‬ We cannot agree on what happened.”
@mbalimcdust: “We still on the matter of cllrs going to Korea. They have no business going. The ANC to spite us has now increased the num of cllrs to go ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The ANC says DA is self righteous for not accepting freebies ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “The ANC says that most rate payers are black and the DA is upset about this and keeping Africans from enjoying government perks ‪#fb‬”
@warwickchapman: “Cllr Mapena just said that the members of the committee who will be going to Daejeon will be black and that no whites will be going!”
@mbalimcdust: “Cllr Mapena says the DA is upset because Africans are getting a chance to go overseas and non of the whites are going to go ‪#fb‬”
@mbalimcdust: “Cllr Mapena has now resorted to being racist but the speaker won’t take our points of order ‪#fb”‬
@mbalimcdust: “The vote has taken place. All opposition parties opposed. ANC in favour. Motion is passed. What a shame ‪#fb‬ SAfricans we are in trouble.”

POSTSCRIPT: As if suppressing the DA’s speakers wasn’t enough, the ANC controlled council is now investigating Mbali Ntuli and Warwick Chapman for tweeting from the meeting (a meeting which is public and of public concern). They might be sending a football team to South Korea, but they seem to have confused eThekwini with China.

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