Minstrels ‘cash-for-votes’ claim a smear campaign – Fransman

2015-02-02 12:36

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Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman has accused a Cape minstrel troupe leader of lying and blamed “specific individuals within the ANC” of being behind an exposé that places him at the centre of a votes-for-cash scandal.

Fransman said the timing of the scandal – which erupted this weekend, ahead of next month’s provincial elective conference – was not a coincidence.

He was responding to claims that he had tried to buy support for the ANC in last year’s general elections by promising cash to troupe leaders to win the DA-controlled province.

The scandal was exposed in yesterday’s Sunday Times. The report referred to minutes of meetings, copies of which have been seen by this newspaper, which took place between himself and the executive of the Cape District Minstrel Board.

Denying the claims, Fransman, who is the chief patron of the minstrels, said that the minutes were “a lie and a distortion”.

He said that the ANC made no secret about supporting the minstrels, as they had been “suffocated” by the DA, but that this did not extend to votes-for-cash pledges.

He said the chair of the minstrel board, Shahieda Thole, was being manipulated by these individuals, and also by the Economic Freedom Fighters and Democratic Alliance.

Declining to name the ANC individuals, Fransman said: “They have tried to call for the disbandment of the PEC [provincial executive committee]. That has failed. The next step now is the old-style dirty Western Cape politics to attack the leadership, bring the structure down and emerge as the leaders,” said Fransman, whose leadership has been hit by accusations of factionalism, poor organisation and clashes with the party’s national leadership.

Contacted yesterday, Thole said she had been forced to blow the whistle because she had felt humiliated by the ANC’s failure to deliver on their promise.

“I can’t face the public. They have used me to use my community,” she said.

She stood by details of her hand-written minutes of meetings, including one at the Cantina Tequila in Tygervalley on February 19 last year. Minutes state that Fransman had asked her troupe to draw up a proposal and he would give them “R600 000 to a million” by the end of December.

“For [the Cape District Minstrel Board] they have to sign up members for the ANC and the families will receive food parcels.”

The minutes also state that Fransman had claimed that the ANC had given R10 million to Richard Stemmet’s Cape Town Minstrel Carnival Association over three years, and also Melvin Matthews’ Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association. This was for competitions, buses, venues, security and costumes. The groups would in return sign up with the ANC.

Both Matthews and Stemmet have denied the claims.

Asked for comment, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa referred all queries to the provincial ANC.

In a statement, the Western Cape ANC dismissed the claims as “false, defamatory and slanderous”. It threatened action against “those disgruntled ANC members and wedge drivers for working with the opposition”.

DA Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer said: “It is not surprising that Marius Fransman cannot act with integrity during election campaigns.”

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