/ 19 June 2018

DA charges George mayor of plotting to put ANC in power

Melvin Naik.
Melvin Naik.

The Democratic Alliance’s federal legal commission has served a charge sheet on George mayor Melvin Naik, accusing him of garnering support for the ANC to place it “in a position to govern” the municipality.

Naik is facing an internal disciplinary party hearing on Thursday.

The Mail & Guardian has seen the charge sheet where Naik is accused of violating the party’s social media policy with regards to his comments during a radio interview. Initially, the charges were believed to have stemmed from a homophobic slur Naik was alleged to have made during the broadcast. His utterances were against a group of gay US choristers who will perform in George next week.

It is however, his involvement in alleged plot to win support for the ANC in the municipal government that has brought Naik under scrutiny, according to the party. The DA believes he attempted to usurp his own party from its leadership in the municipality and replace it with the ANC.

“[He] canvassed the support of Democratic Alliance members to frustrate the party’s operations in the municipality and political activity with the view of decreasing the support for the Democratic Alliance whilst working towards increasing support for the ANC in their respective wards with the express view of placing the ANC in a position to govern the George municipality,” the charge sheet reads.

Naik declined to comment on the charges or his plea. The party meanwhile, did not give reasons in the charge sheet on why this allegation has been made.

In addition to these two charges is an allegation that a dubious relationship between Naik and the ANC exists. According to the charge levelled by the DA, Naik held a meeting with fellow members at DA councillor Vincentius Muller’s house on May 20 2018 with the supposed intention to “canvass their support for the ANC”. Muller has been named as a witness who will appear at the disciplinary hearing proceedings.

The party further accuses him of canvassing support among DA councillors in the municipality for a motion of no confidence in the deputy mayor and the council speaker — both DA members — which was brought by the ANC in May.

At the time, suspicion surrounded Naik after the Hawks descended on his private residence and conducted a search and seizure operation in April. The DA said it had requested an investigation into alleged corruption, fraud, and tender irregularities in the municipal government. Laptops, cellphones and boxes of documents were reportedly confiscated during the raid.

In a statement after the raid, Naik denied any wrongdoing, but questions were raised about why the ANC proposed a motion of no confidence in the deputy mayor — Charlotte Mary-Anne Clarke — instead of making the same proposal for Naik.

In the charge sheet the DA says these allegations mean Naik contravened party rules by allegedly: bringing the DA into disrepute, publicly opposing the party’s principles, failing to carry out his duties according to the standards set by the federal council, harmed the party’s interests, hampered internal co-operation, and rejected party decisions. The party has six witnesses that will testify against Naik.

Naik may be the next mayor on the DA’s chopping block after the party’s attempts to sack Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. Two other Western Cape mayors — Evert Manuel of Berg River Municipality and Matzikama’s Rhenda Stephan — have already resigned after losing votes in motions of no confidences.

Knysna mayor Mark Willemse is also facing the prospect of losing his position, after the DA confirmed it was drawing up a charge sheet against him. The party gave Willemse a deadline to resign last Friday, which Willemse refused.