Town up in arms over racism claims
The DA’s dream of snatching Mpumalanga’s Steve Tshwete Local Municipality in Middelburg risks going up in smoke due to racism flowing like magma through the party leadership in the town.
A potential councillor candidate for the Kanonkop ward 15, Buks Olivier (67), is digging up history from the municipality’s files and using it against one of the hopefuls after racism allegations.
Steve Tshwete is a flagship, ANC-led municipality, and has been receiving clean audits year after year. But, its standard has been deteriorating and it is plagued by service delivery protests.
The situation has also raised the Economic Freedom Fighters’ hopes of winning the municipality outright, if not through a coalition, after the August 3 elections.
The DA’s Federal Candidates Election Committee has since removed Olivier, who attended a selection process in a bid to become a candidate in the ward. This was after provincial legislature member and Steve Tshwete constituency leader Bosman Grobler complained about his alleged past racist attitude while he was employed as a building inspector in the ANC-led council.
Grobler’s complaint follows a separate incident of alleged failure to thwart racism involving former provincial DA leader Anthony Benadie’s Dros restaurant in February. A black patron, Elnah Sekwane (25) accused Benadie of turning a blind eye after she complained about white patrons who referred to her as a k **** r.
Benadie also had ambitions to stand as a councillor, but withdrew from the race following a rant on Twitter by the South African National Civic Organisation over the incident.
City Press has seen Grobler’s complaint, which demanded that Olivier be dislodged as a candidate. Grobler alleges that he received three complaints about Olivier:
In 2010, Olivier allegedly said: “I’m going to blacklist your company from this council and show all you black contractors who is boss here.” He also allegedly said: “I’m an ANC member; you won’t do anything, you stupid blacks.”
In the same conversation, he allegedly said: “Ek praat nie met jou nie. Jy is net ’n klein k **** r [I’m not speaking to you. You are just a small k **** r].”
Grobler claims in the letter that he received two complaints this year from ordinary citizens: one said he believed Olivier would cost the DA votes, while the other alleged that Olivier favoured the ANC during a by-election in 2014, when ballot papers were in dispute, and even discarded DA ballot papers. The complaint said it was known that Olivier was an “ill-mannered” person.
Grobler tried to downplay the matter when City Press contacted him for comment.
“Buks applied to be a candidate councillor, but we have stringent processes. A person suitable for the diverse constituency was appointed. Any allegation regarding racism is pure speculation and is looking for sensationalism,” he said.
Olivier denied he was a racist and expressed unhappiness that the allegations had been made about him.
“Look, I was employed in an ANC-led municipality and would have been fired for using the k-word, which I had not used in my life because I’m a Christian and respect people.
“I’m heartsore because the DA did not provide proof for their allegations. Now, I’ll vote for the ANC,” he said.
Mpumalanga DA leader James Masango acknowledged the allegations, saying that the party did not want to take a risk with Olivier’s candidacy.
“We were cautious and withdrew him,” Masango said.