Hysteria over DA,UDM talks odd – John Steenhuisen

TIME TO TALK: UDM party leader Bantu Holomisa, left, with the party's treasurer general Thandie Nontenja, and the DA's James Selfe and party leader John Steenhuisen, right
TIME TO TALK: UDM party leader Bantu Holomisa, left, with the party's treasurer general Thandie Nontenja, and the DA's James Selfe and party leader John Steenhuisen, right

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the DA was keen to revive a relationship with his party after it soured shortly after the 2016 local government elections.

Meanwhile, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said he found the hysteria over the party’s talks with opposition parties odd.

I don’t think it’s unusual for leaders of opposition parties to meet, there’s nothing shocking about it.

“We still have relationships in both Tshwane and Johannesburg and I don’t think there’s anything odd about meeting with them.

“There’s nothing to be shocked about, there’s nothing on the table, there’s no discussion about forming a coalition, it’s simply meeting leaders of these parties.

“I really find the hysteria slightly misplaced.

“I find it odd that some people regard it as a heresy for opposition parties to be talking to each other,” Steenhuisen said.

Holomisa was speaking shortly after he met with Steenhuisen and the party’s governance unit head James Selfe on Thursday.

“They said there was a new leadership in the party and they would like to revive the co-operation we had previously, specifically in Nelson Mandela Bay,” Holomisa said.

He said the UDM had welcomed the DA’s decision but he would have to hear from his party’s structures first before making any decision.

“We welcomed their initiative and the UDM is a flexible political party.

“All what we want is service delivery for the people.”

Holomisa said the previous coalition agreement  — and what had led to it collapsing — was discussed at length.

UDM councillor Mongameli Bobani was fired from the position of mayoral committee member for public health in May 2017 by then mayor Athol Trollip amid claims he had acted corruptly.

At the time, Bobani also lost his position as deputy mayor.

Though Trollip was not always specific on allegations about Bobani, the fallout was, among others, over the seemingly corrupt Milongani tender.

Trollip had claimed payments to Milongani happened under Bobani’s watch but this was publicly challenged by Bobani, who on numerous occasions demanded proof.

The DA’s leader at the time, Mmusi Maimane, was quoted as saying there was prima facie evidence of corruption against the UDM member.

This led to the  public fallout between Trollip and Bobani.

“There were serious accusation from Trollip and Mmusi made without evidence.

“The DA needs to clarify those allegations as the name of Bobani was besmirched without any evidence,” Holomisa said.

“We were treated like schoolchildren, with those two then saying I was also corrupt.

“We are not interested in getting into that kind of politics ever again.”

“Therefore, if they want us to agree in future we have to address these trust issues.”

“They must convince us about their new position if they still want to work for us.”

Holomisa said the DA admitted they had also made mistakes.

“They acknowledge the problems from their side.

“Otherwise, the meeting was all about exploratory talks. We will have other meetings.”

He said they would eventually discuss “personalities”, meaning who would form part of the mayoral committee.

“We parked that issue for now.”

Steenhuisen added he was meeting with all leaders of the opposition and signatories of the coalition, and would  continue to do so.

He said he was gauging where they were in terms of the country’s politics.

“If there comes a situation where there is formalisation of talks around something as profound as a coalition then obviously we’ll have to go to our party structure,” Steenhuisen said.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.