Manuel lays charge against DA over ‘defamatory’ flyer

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel is seething with anger about the distribution of a pamphlet that claims he has urged voters not to vote ANC in the local government elections.

“Why on Earth would I tell anyone not to vote for the ANC?” he asked, clearly infuriated. “It is defamatory and fraudulent to make claims like that.”

Taking time from his door-to-door campaigning in the impoverished Hangberg informal settlement overlooking the spectacular surrounds of Hout Bay, he had plenty to say about the distribution of the pamphlet, headlined “Trevor Manuel is telling South Africans not to vote in South Africa”.

“I think it is the most blatant violation of the Electoral Act and it is also fraudulent to distribute it,” he said when approached in the tiny sea-view flat of 70-year-old ANC supporter Peter Williams. “Those quotations don’t exist or they are taken completely out of context. It is a desperate measure on the part of the Democratic Alliance to try to get people to support them.”

Manuel said ANC members had reported seeing the pamphlet distributed in various parts of the country. “We asked around and we have found that it has been distributed by people dressed in blue in different places,” he said.

“We will certainly be following it up and we have taken our complaint to the Independent Electoral Commission. I think the Electoral Court is the correct forum to handle the matter.”

Plato no longer welcome
Manuel received a hero’s welcome from ANC community members in Hangberg, where many people are still traumatised by their violent clashes with police who moved into the area in September to demolish illegally built shacks.

The move to demolish the shacks was ordered by the DA, which had wanted to clear the firebreak on the mountain. Some residents say Cape Town mayor Dan Plato is no longer welcome in the area and the incident has proved to be further electioneering ammunition for the ANC.

Among the people who waited for two hours for Manuel to arrive in Hangberg was 35-year-old Aurial Cloete, who lost her left eye in the clashes, when police fired shots to control the crowd. “I was standing there on the hill when the shooting started,” she said, pulling off her sunglasses to reveal a sewn-up hole in the place where her eye should be.

“I ran into my flat and was looking out when a sharpshooter shot me in the passage.”

Anger against the DA is still rife in the area and many residents complained that they had been offered no counselling. Some said they had voted for the DA, but the police shootings had changed their minds. ANC members in Hangberg said they had not seen the pamphlet about Manuel, although some said they had heard about it. The ANC brought charges of crimen injuria and fraud against the DA this week for the pamphlet.

The DA denied printing and distributing the two-page A4 document. However, it said it stood by most of the content, which was the wording of a statement first sent out in March by DA national spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko, quoting what she claimed were some of Manuel’s assessments of government service delivery weaknesses.

“In a desperate attempt to do absolutely anything to avoid talking about service delivery, the ANC’s electoral campaign has resorted to what can only be described as spectacular nonsense by trying to get an interdict to stop a pamphlet the DA has nothing to do with and which mirrors a statement released by the party to the entire country two months ago,” Mazibuko responded this week.

“The DA has nothing to do with the ‘pamphlet’ in question, or its distribution. What we did do, some two months ago, is release a statement on Trevor Manuel and his numerous and substantial criticisms of the ANC. We stand by every word and we are re-releasing it now.”

In the DA statement it said Manuel’s “latest attack on the ANC government’s service delivery record is the fourth such incident in three months”.

“Trevor Manuel is at war with the ANC. He has described it as unaccountable, racist, corrupt and a party that has failed to deliver to the poor. But if Trevor Manuel, as a member of the senior leadership of the ANC, has no confidence in his party’s ability to govern, there is no reason why voters should,” the statement read. “In short, Trevor Manuel has told South Africans why they should not vote for the ANC.”

For exclusively M&G articles and multimedia on the local government elections 2011 click here:

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Glynnis Underhill
Glynnis Underhill has been in journalism for more years than she cares to remember. She loves a good story as much now as she did when she first started. The only difference is today she hopes she is giving something back to the country.

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