Forget about Phoenix posters and resignations, let's talk about ANC scandals: John Steenhuisen

DA leader makes it rain chocolate lollipops in Jerusalem

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
A DA poster in Phoenix ahead of local government elections. The community there came under fire in July after 36 people were killed in unrest in the area.
A DA poster in Phoenix ahead of local government elections. The community there came under fire in July after 36 people were killed in unrest in the area.
Image: Supplied

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Tuesday did not want to comment on the dramatic resignation of the party's Ekurhuleni campaign manager Mike Waters in the wake of the “DA calls you heroes” poster saga.

On the local government elections campaign trail in Ekurhuleni, Steenhuisen said he preferred talking about ANC scandals. He ducked questions over Waters, who quit his job at the weekend after slamming the party leaders as he did so, labelling them “spineless” after the decision to apologise and remove the controversial election posters in Phoenix, Durban.

The posters had sparked nationwide condemnation for appearing to praise vigilante groups as “heroes” for killing people in the wake of violent unrest in July. Many of those who died were not involved in the looting. 

Questioned on the DA's internal drama over the saga — particularly Waters' attack on the DA leadership — Steenhuisen lost his cool.

“I find this quite funny. We are talking about people who have absolutely nothing and [suffer from] poor service delivery, and I get asked a question about a campaign manager who resigns,” said a visibly furious Steenhuisen.

“Yesterday there was an MEC [the ANC's Mandla Msibi] arrested for murder, we have a premier in the Eastern Cape [ANC provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane] who is implicated in municipal fraud, and I now have to answer a question about someone who in a pique resigned? Really, I cannot do that.”

Pressed further to answer the question as it was never going to go away, Steenhuisen said Waters had his reasons for resigning and had the right to quit.

“It is his decision to resign; I cannot force people's hands to stay,” he said. “This is a voluntary association, we do not shackle people to positions. People come and go in politics all the time, across all political parties. The job moves on and our focus is on service delivery.”

Doing a walkabout at an informal settlement in Boksburg named “Jerusalem”, Steenhuisen promised the community better service under a DA government. He also bought the crowds that were after him chocolate lollipops at a small spaza shop in the community.

According to Steenhuisen, the ANC government in Ekurhuleni has embezzled more than R20m meant to move community members to decent houses.

“We do not do pie in the sky promises. We are delivering already where people have given us an opportunity to govern,” he told a community meeting.

“They [the ANC] think they are the Lotto party. Thatha ama-chance (taking chances) all the time. We cannot afford to take chances any more. In this election, vote for a party that is going to deliver and a party that gets things done. This government does not take you seriously, they spent R23m moving people from one shack into another shack.

“Jerusalem could have been the 'new Jerusalem', a thriving community. But it has been abandoned by people who are busy putting the money into their back pockets because they do not care about the people any more.” 


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