Slabbert, fired for racism, now paraded as mentor to Ward 1 by-election candidate
The man who circulated a racist e-mail criticising the ANC’s rule as having done nothing more than produce “dumb idiots who wait for handouts” has been welcomed into the party’s fold in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Stanford Slabbert, a former DA Ward 1 councillor, was paraded by the ANC as its latest recruit yesterday.
The party hopes that having Slabbert in its ranks will be enough to clinch the majority vote in today’s Ward 1 by-election.
While Slabbert is not vying for the job this time around, he said he would play a significant role as a mentor to Ward 1 ANC candidate Siviwe Ngaba, should he win.
Slabbert was fired by the DA four years ago for distributing an e-mail titled “Opinion on SA”, which was copied from an anti-ANC blog and sent to councillors and senior DA leaders in the Eastern Cape.
It insulted former president Jacob Zuma as having more wives and said he presided over a country where 25% of schoolgirls were HIV-positive because South Africans had “out-fornicated everyone and spread disease more than anyone else”.
It caused an uproar within the DA at the time and the ANC even called for him to be reported to the Human Rights Commission.
After a lengthy disciplinary and appeals process, Slabbert was eventually booted out of the DA for bringing the party into disrepute.
He then went on to contest the Ward 1 by-election as an independent in 2014 but only managed to attract 9% of the votes.
Yesterday, the ANC defended Slabbert, saying he had been used as a pawn in mayor Athol Trollip’s political aspirations at the time to lead the Bay.
Speaking from the ANC’s regional headquarters, Florence Matomela House, Slabbert said he could never go back to the DA.
“The DA is failing the metro and I want to be part of an organisation that’s building the metro up to be worthy of its name,” he said.
“There was an unfortunate e-mail that a resident sent to me and said I must send to my former colleagues.
“I ignored it because I didn’t think it was my job. He sent it back to me and asked me to please forward it.
“It was an e-mail I hadn’t actually read and I sent it to 12 of my colleagues.
“It turned out that, right at the end, there was a racist connotation and it was most unfortunate because I don’t get involved in anything like that.”
At the time that the e-mail was forwarded to Slabbert and DA councillors, it was rejected by the municipality’s e-mail server and bounced.
Slabbert then reforwarded it to his colleagues’ personal e-mail addresses.
But Slabbert maintained yesterday that Trollip had used him to bolster his mayoral ambitions.
“Trollip had just moved out of parliament and saw me as a good scapegoat to make a name for himself in the metro and to get rid of me,” he claimed.
“I was probably one of the harder working councillors and I was very proud of what we were doing in the ward, and all of that fell out because I was a political pawn.”
Asked if the ANC endorsed or had forgiven Slabbert for the e-mail, the party’s regional coordinator of elections, Xolani Mgxoteni, said they believed Slabbert’s explanation that he had forwarded the e-mail without reading it and that he had not been given an opportunity to explain his side of the story.
“That explanation made sense to us and we think through his acceptance of the policies and decisions of the ANC as he read the pledge in the acceptance form, there is no reason why the ANC should not accept him,” Mgxoteni said.
ANC acting regional chairman Phumzile Tshuni, who flanked Slabbert at the media briefing, labelled the DA as a fake and failing organisation.
“This is proof that people are beginning to see the DA for what it is,” Tshuni said.
DA Eastern Cape chairman Andrew Whitfield said Slabbert had been removed from office three years before the 2016 elections for the racist e-mail.
“Stanford is simply trying to justify his unconscionable decision to join a corrupt and broken ANC, which is about to jump into bed with the EFF,” he said.
“The ANC makes a habit of recruiting former DA councillors who were either underperforming or were disciplined and removed from the party.
“The ANC now sees fit to recruit somebody who was expelled from the DA for racism. It is the sign of a desperate and confused political party that has lost its moral and strategic compass.”
Slabbert said he had received constant calls from residents of the ward over the last three years.
“I’m happy to work very closely with Siviwe [Ngaba] – I can assist him with issues in that ward as I see myself as a mentor to our incoming Ward 1 councillor,” he said.
The by-election today is to fill a seat vacated by former DA Ward 1 councillor Rashied Adams, who was fired by the party.
Adams is contesting today’s by-election on a COPE ticket.
The voting stations, which will be open from 7am to 9pm, are at the Cheshire Home, Mance Karate Club, Riverside Tents and Elukholweni Farm School. ●The ANC announced two other recruits – Thembelani Kondile, from COPE, and Sibongile Vatala, from the UDM.