ANC/NNP grab Stellenbosch

2002-10-15 13:28

Cape Town - In a humiliating blow for Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon, the African National Congress and New National Party have taken control of Stellenbosch.

The alliance has claimed the support of four defectors - two from the DA, and two from the local Alliance for the Community - giving it an outright majority in the 35-seat council.

The announcement was made by NNP leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk on the steps of the Stellenbosch town hall.

This was the same spot where, last week, Leon, backed by the whole DA caucus, declared that "Stellenbosch is DA", and that the DA councillors "are standing firm with the voters of this historic town and will honour their mandate".

Van Schalkwyk said Leon had staked his reputation and credibility on his statement that the DA would never lose Stellenbosch.

"When Mr Leon made his statement five days ago, he reminded me of a has-been general fighting yesterday's battles and not realising that his officers and troops are deserting him in their hundreds.

Defector 'felt intimidated'

"It is quite clear the DP/DA leadership has lost touch with reality. South Africa is witnessing one of the fastest meltdowns of a political party our history has ever seen.

"The dam wall has burst."

The two DA defectors are Gilbert Adonis and Sampie van der Merwe.

Adonis said on Tuesday that, although he had been on the steps of the town hall with Leon on October 10, he had felt "intimidated" at the time.

Confirming that he was crossing the floor, he said: "The reason is actually that I'm not so happy with the DA at the moment, especially with the DA councillors.

"I feel much better now that I'm back with the NNP, because that is where I belong."

Adonis said both he and Van der Merwe were NNP members before they became DA councillors.

Before the defections, the DA had 15 seats in the 35-member council, the ANC 14, and other parties six.

Conference now on ANC turf

The crossings mean the DA now has 13 and the ANC/NNP alliance 18.

Last week, ANC provincial leader Ebrahim Rasool said his party would not have wanted to hold its 51st national conference in the town knowing the municipality was still in DA hands.

The conference will be held there from December 16 to 20.

"Stellenbosch is symbolic because of its relationship to the conference," he said.

The alliance has already taken Cape Town from the DA, and a string of other Western Cape municipalities.