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The DA unveils Stevens Mokgalapa as the City of Tshwane's new mayor on February 3, 2019. (Tshidi Madia, News24)
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Tshwane is a litmus test for the DA's future. The party cannot be seen to be only opposing corruption and maladministration when it happens in ANC-run governments, writes Adriaan Basson.
after the DA had received the best results ever during the local government
elections in 2016, a senior party leader told me it would be a disaster for the
party to think it could govern Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and
simply don't have the expertise and capacity to run four cities," the
leader said, fearing that party leader Mmusi Maimane and his frontline wouldn't
be able to face up to this reality amid celebrations and the deep, justified
urge to show the ANC of Jacob Zuma the door.
The leader has
been proven right.
couldn't resist the temptation to have all his cake and eat it and the DA
cuddled up to the EFF – a party with which the DA had nothing in common but
their shared hatred of Zuma – to rule the powerhouses of Johannesburg and
on, the DA is out of power in Nelson Mandela Bay and hanging on by the skin of
their teeth in Johannesburg. The latest scandal in Tshwane is proof that the DA
simply doesn't have the human capital and skill to run even three metros
mayor Stevens Mokgalapa's dubious relationship with Chinese tech giant Huawei
is the second scandal to hit the capital city in less than three years under
DA-control and threatens to destroy the party's image of good, clean
reeling from the embarrassing cancellation of a R12bn infrastructure management
project with engineering consultancy GladAfrica, Mokgalapa is in for a tough
few weeks after the Sunday Times revealed how Tshwane put out a tender
for a multimillion-rand safe cities project while Mokgalapa was in China,
courtesy of Huawei, to view their smart city projects.
newspaper reported that the tender specifications were drawn up in a way that
would benefit Huawei's products and services, probably as a provider to a local
the second-largest cellphone maker in the world and the company is at the
centre of the trade war between the US and China after President Donald Trump
effectively blacklisted Huawei in America.
making phones, Huawei also specialises in creating smart cities through
technology – an idea punted by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his May State of
the Nation Address.
The idea is
to create an integrated security system through CCTV cameras and control rooms
that are linked to law enforcement agencies, but China's critics have pointed
out the obvious risks for privacy violation and surveillance.
ago, the Wall Street Journal revealed how Huawei employees in Zambia and Uganda
had helped the governments in those countries to spy on opposition politicians.
This included intercepting WhatsApp messages.
categorically denied the claims, saying it has never been involved in hacking.
will now have to explain to his party why he didn't seek approval from the DA
before he accepted an all-expenses-paid trip from Huawei, while his government
was drawing up specifications for a tender that fits perfectly in the company's
If this was
happening in an ANC-run municipality or government, the DA would have (rightly
so) done a song and a dance, demanding transparency and thorough investigations
into the matter. Tshwane is a litmus test for the DA's future.
cannot be seen to be only opposing corruption and maladministration when it
happens in ANC-run governments. That will be the end of the DA.
In the meantime,
as News24 revealed last week, Maimane has effectively placed Mokgalapa and his
government under administration by parachuting in party guru James Selfe, who
heads up the DA's governance unit, to deal with the troubled municipality.
major fallouts over the next few days emanating from the DA's head office in
Bruma as the party tries to salvage its governance record.
- Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.
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