Muslim Party might discipline Chaaban
African Muslim Party councillor and provincial chairperson of the AMP, Badih Chaaban, who single-handedly tried to topple Cape Town mayor Helen Zille’s DA-led city government may now face internal opposition from his party.
‘My party might institute disciplinary proceedings against me, but I did what I thought was in the best interest of the city,” an unrepentant Chaaban said this week after Zille sacked him and two of his AMP colleagues from the multiparty coalition on Tuesday.
This week battle-fatigued Zille survived the seventh attempt on her professional life when she sacked the three AMP members after she learned that they had tried to form a coalition with the ANC and other minority parties behind her back.
Councillor Chaaban is no stranger to controversy.
He holds a month-to-month lease on 83% of Greenmarket Square and has been at loggerheads with the city since 2002 when council members accused him of running rackets on this piece of prime city real estate. At the time he was alleged to have made R140 000 per month from business on the square.
In the same year the City of Cape Town instituted legal proceedings against Chaaban to have him evicted from two parking lots he has occupied in the city. Chaaban also operates and runs the lower Station Deck Fleamarket, called Biz Africa, of which he owns a 40% share. It is alleged that family members own the rest. Last year Metro Police Chief Bongani Jonas identified this part of the station deck as a crime and drug hotspot.
When Chaaban took over his AMP seat in August last year, certain members of his own party accused him of paying R500 000 for his seat. ‘I know certain AMP-members said that and I challenged them to prove it. They couldn’t and now they’re quiet.” Chaaban said.
Shortly after he took up his seat, he had to apologise to ID caucus leader Simon Grinrod for calling him a cocksucker during a council-sitting. ‘Don’t talk shit about me,” Chaaban shouted at Grinrod after he accused Chaaban of ‘shady and sleazy” business dealings.
In council Chaaban admitted that he owes the city R500 000 in rent arrears for Greenmarket Square.
Chaaban also employed Cyril Beka, a notorious underground character who was linked to Italian mafia-boss Vito Pallazollo. ‘Beka supplied me with security at some of my business interests. There was nothing sinister about that relationship,” Chaaban said this week.
Ironically, Chaaban was a member of the ID before he joined the AMP. ‘I shoot from the hip and people don’t like it. When I joined the council, Zille called me an honest businessman. Now the DA’s saying I’m corrupt,” Chaaban said.
‘I’m not a gangster—everybody in politics lies. Except me. I’m not a liar. I’m a Muslim and I don’t believe in telling lies.
‘The DA is not delivering to the city so I went to the ANC. That’s how politics work. I find the DA to be racist, so I went to the ANC who received me very warmly,” he said.
When Chaaban became a councillor last year, ANC provincial leader James Ncgulu said in an interview with the Mail & Guardian: ‘We were dealing with people who were not going to the council to serve but to enter into their own business arrangements and protect their vested interests.”
Commenting on the AMP initially joining the DA coalition after the municipal elections last year, Ncgulu said: ‘The DA is now talking high on corruption, on the other hand they sit with corruption in the house. Chabaan he is there and they can’t do anything about it because their survival rests on that corrupt councillor of the AMP.
‘They are obviously corrupt and they know that and they can’t do anything because they must survive — otherwise anything they do the cookie might crumble.”
A senior provincial ANC leader, who doesn’t want to be named, said this week that political alliances change all the time. ‘I challenge any political party who is approached by another party who wants to talk but then turns the offer down.
‘We didn’t approach the AMP—they came to us.”