Author of damning book ‘a spy’

Crispian Olver Launched his new book “How to steal a city”
Picture: Eugene Coetzee

A senior ANC member last night accused author Crispian Olver of being a spy gathering damning information on the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay to put in a book and damage the party ahead of the 2019 elections.

This was one of several accusations made against Olver at the launch of his book, How to Steal a City, at the GFI gallery in Park Drive, Port Elizabeth.

The book offers a rare insider’s account into behind-the-scenes dealings by prominent personalities, some of whom had become synonymous with the city’s biggest corruption scandals.

Former Bay ANC chairman Andile Lungisa accused Olver of corruption and failure to carry out the task he was sent to do.

“I read two pages from the book and I am not sure if I can still call you a comrade,” he said.

“It’s very clear that you were not doing the task you were sent to do, what you decided to do was to act as a spy.

“Which is not very far away from corruption [because] you used government resources to do a different mandate from what you were deployed for and you ended up producing a book.”

Olver was commissioned by then cooperative governance minister Pravin Gordhan in 2015 to head a clean-up intervention in the metro.

Lungisa accused Olver of selectively dealing with corruption. “We are all not dealing with corruption in its totality, we are very selective.

“We have highlighted the issue of the transport system [integrated public transport system] in Nelson Mandela Bay, but we have not found out what happened to R2.5-billion in the transport system in Nelson Mandela Bay,” he said.

Another senior ANC official, Mthiwabo Ndube, asked Olver whether he had kept the lid on how the party funded its 2016 local government election campaign.

“I have not read the book, but I have known the man for the last 30 years – did you achieve the objective of coming to the city and is this book not damaging to the ANC for 2019?” he asked.

“What about the confidentiality of the meetings and discussions we had with you? I was part of the fundraising committee [for the local government elections] and I hope you have kept your oath and kept our secrets that we discussed.”

The much-anticipated launch drew a substantial crowd that filled the gallery to capacity, with the book selling out at the venue before the event had started.

Olver said he was fairly confident of his facts and had gathered a massive paper trail from letters and correspondence and reports.

He also said he had recorded all conversations he had with ANC officials in the city.

“I may not have been a spy but I did apply some basic forensic skill that I learnt from many of you in this room,” he said. “I recorded every conversation I have ever had. “I built up a formidable archive of letter correspondence, forensic reports and internal audit reports, which runs to hundreds and thousands of pages. I am fairly confident about my facts.”

Olver admitted he may have divulged details he should not have, but said the story focused mostly on what he did and why he had done it. “And how I crossed a line,” he said. “I hope I am being as rigorous with myself as I am with other people.”

He said the intervention in the Bay did not completely yield the desired outcome.

“We partially achieved our objective. There was an intervention team – they were told to clean up, they did clean up but not completely.

“The politics of the intervention fell apart and we were not able to overcome the entrenched factionalism that was present in the city and the ANC went in the election pulling itself apart.”

After the launch, Bay mayor Athol Trollip said the city would investigate some of the allegations in Olver’s book.

“This coalition government has taken a zero-tolerance approach to corruption. If there is merit to Olver’s allegations, with evidence to substantiate them, then action will be taken against all implicated officials or service providers.”

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