Per­fect gift for UDM man on daugh­ter’s birth­day

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­

On Wed­nes­day his daugh­ter turned seven, and Mandla Fal­tein would have show­ered her with presents.

But the United Demo­cratic Move­ment (UDM) can­di­date for the Nel­son Man­dela Bay metro re­ceived the big­gest gift when he snatched a pre­cious ward from an ANC al­ready in trou­ble in the city.

The UDM took ward 30, plac­ing it in charge of the up­per mid­dle class ar­eas of KwaMagx­aki and Veeplaas, north­west of Port El­iz­a­beth, both for­mer ANC strongholds.

His win re­duced the ANC’s slim ma­jor­ity in the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil to just two seats, leav­ing it on shaky ground and threat­en­ing its prospects of hold­ing on to the key metro next year.

Fal­tein, a sin­gle fa­ther to daugh­ter Lumko, said the strat­egy was sim­ple: win the trust of the peo­ple on the ground.

“Trust is very im­por­tant. What bet­ter way to gain that trust than go­ing to peo­ple and find­ing out what their needs are.”

The win was clearly a protest vote against the ANC. And Fal­tein will have his work cut out re­tain­ing the ward in next year’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

The 38-year-old used to sup­port the ANC when he was grow­ing up. His fam­ily were United Demo­cratic Front ac­tivists in the 1980s, and he joined the ANC in 1993. The next year, how­ever, he gave up ac­tive pol­i­tics. He said he was dis­il­lu­sioned be­cause the peo­ple who had taken over the party’s struc­tures were in­ter­ested only in en­rich­ing them­selves.

Af­ter 10 years spent do­ing other things, Fal­tein joined the UDM in 2003, be­com­ing the party’s re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor.

He held this po­si­tion un­til he was elected ward coun­cil­lor this week.

In the com­po­si­tion of coun­cil, the ANC’s ma­jor­ity has now been re­duced to 62 coun­cil­lors, with the DA main­tain­ing 47. Cope has six coun­cil­lors, the UDM now has two, the African Chris­tian Demo­cratic Party has a sin­gle coun­cil­lor and there is *A PAC Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive coun­cil­lor

va­cancy ex­ists. one in­de­pen­dent. There is also a sin­gle va­cancy for a seat that used to be­long to the Pan African­ist Congress. A by­elec­tion will be held to de­cide that seat soon.

Los­ing the ward meant the ANC dropped sup­port by 23% while the UDM grew from 1% to a stag­ger­ing 49%.

The ANC parachuted Danny Jor­daan to the city as mayor to re­gain lost ground, but the latest re­sult in­di­cates he might not be hav­ing an im­pact at grass roots level.

Fal­tein said the UDM beat the ANC sim­ply by be­ing more in touch with the com­mu­ni­ties the rul­ing party had lost con­tact with.

“We beat the ANC at their own game. They no longer con­duct door-to-doors which is what made a dif­fer­ence for us in this elec­tion.

“All they do is mo­tor­cades, driv­ing around in fancy cars in front of poor peo­ple, speak­ing on loud­hail­ers and chant­ing slo­gans, hop­ing peo­ple will come and vote. But lit­tle did they know that time is gone. Peo­ple want sub­stance and tan­gi­ble ob­jec­tives,” said Fal­tein.

His main fo­cus would be to voice the con­cerns of the peo­ple who voted for him and give them reg­u­lar feed­back.

The chal­lenges faced by the peo­ple of ward 30, he said, like un­em­ploy­ment, poverty, poor san­i­ta­tion and hous­ing back­logs, would be his first pri­or­ity as he joined other coun­cil­lors at City Hall.

Fal­tein said he ex­pected the UDM to take over the metro next year, as it was work­ing in ev­ery cor­ner of the city. He also did not rule out pos­si­ble coali­tions with other op­po­si­tion par­ties as the bat­tle to wrest power from the ANC in­ten­si­fied.

“You can­not be de­tached from the peo­ple who voted for you just be­cause you are now a coun­cil­lor – an im­por­tant per­son. As a ward coun­cil­lor, you are the chain that links the com­mu­nity and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“In 2016, the UDM will sur­prise many peo­ple when it takes over this metro. And if we don’t, the party’s top lead­er­ship will de­cide if we get to coali­tions or not,” added Fal­tein.

MAN OF THE PEO­PLE UDM ward 30 coun­cil­lor Mandla Fal­tein

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