/ 11 February 2008

ID dismisses Zille’s claims on bribery

The Independent Democrats (ID) on Monday dismissed as false claims by Cape Town mayor Helen Zille that the Democratic Alliance (DA) did not sanction the alleged bribery of ID councillor Sheval Arendse.

ID caucus leader in the council Simon Grindrod said it was clear that the ”bribery” was done with the full blessing of the DA leadership.

”It was done in the name of the DA with the full mandate of the party,” he said.

Grindrod, who was briefing the media at the Civic Centre in Cape Town, said it was untrue that former DA provincial chairperson Kent Morkel acted alone.

The DA was a well-run organisation and there was no way that its leadership would not have known.

He called on council speaker Dirk Smit to urgently investigate the matter.

”We therefore request that you urgently commence an investigation into this matter.

”We would also ask that the same thoroughness be applied to this investigation as has previously been applied to other such investigations of enticement and allegations of bribery,” Grindrod said.

The ID was in possession of a signed agreement between Morkel and Arendse, in terms of which Arendse agreed to resign as ward councillor and from the ID.

Arendse agreed to then stand for the DA in the subsequent by-election in the ward.

The DA undertook to pay Arendse his council salary from the period of his resignation to the date of the by-election.

If Arendse was elected in the by-election, the DA undertook to elect him chairperson of the Mitchells Plain sub-council.

Grindrod said the ID obtained a copy of the agreement from the Erasmus commission investigating the so-called Cape Town council ”spy” saga.

Zille has called for the commission’s suspension, saying it was ”unlawful and unconstitutional”.

However, Grindrod dismissed Zille’s call as an attempt to hide the truth.

”Let’s cooperate fully with the commission so that South Africans can see we have nothing to hide. The ID is not in the business of blocking investigations,” he said.

‘A series of lies’

Meanwhile, the DA on Monday denied flatly that it had ever offered a floor-crossing ”inducement” to any councillor.

It said claims made by the African National Congress and the ID to this effect were based on ”a series of lies, half-truths and distortions”.

DA communications director Paul Boughey said in a statement that in 2006, Cape Town councillor Arendse offered to join the DA because he could no longer, on principle, continue as a member of the ID after it supported the election of ANC mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo.

”The DA did not offer any inducements for Arendse to join the DA,” he said.

”Once Arendse resigned from the ID, he was employed to work in his ward and prepare for the by-election [for his council post, which he won].

”He was employed on a salary equivalent to what he would have received as a councillor in the two months prior to the by-election.”

Boughey said Morkel, former DA Western Cape chairperson, had at the same time made an ”unauthorised” offer to Arendse for the position of a sub-council chairpersonship.

”When the unauthorised offer was brought to the attention of the DA leadership, it was immediately repudiated by Helen Zille who dismissed the letter as invalid,” he said. — Sapa