DA in Knysna axes councillor for voting with rival ANC
By Tshego Lepule 12m ago
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Cape Town – The DA in the Knysna municipality has axed one of its councillors following allegations she voted in favour with the ANC.
Lorraine Opperman, 73, was expelled from the party just three days after she voted with the ANC on a motion during a council meeting last Thursday.
Opperman had only been a councillor in ward 11 for 13 months after she was elected in a by-election in December, 2019. Previously she had been a Cope member who even stood as a candidate for ward five back in the 2016 municipal elections.
However, the elderly councillor fell out of favour with her new political home after failing to vote with her caucus in a motion that sought to curtail the powers of her former party member who is now a Cope mayor, Elrick van Aswegen.
“By voting with the ANC, former councillor Opperman demonstrated her disloyalty to the people of Knysna, and set back the DA’s vision of a better Knysna for everyone. Ms Opperman’s loyalty clearly lies with the ANC and its mayor. A DA motion to elect a DA mayor was also defeated by one vote in a secret ballot on January 4,” said the party’s constituency head, Dion George.
“It is clear that the ANC has worked hard at destabilising the town since 2016. Its strategy of working nefariously to obtain votes from DA councillors against the DA is plain to see.”
Sources close to the matter said Opperman was likely removed from the party which was looking for a scapegoat for their failed motion to have the mayor removed.
“I don’t think she purposefully voted with the ANC motion that day but this was a way for the party to get rid of her,” said the source who wished to not be identified.
“The DA brought her in as a way of trying to get Cope in their corner as she was a member of that party still before the by-election.
“And she was one person who called out the wrong things if they were wrong and clearly the DA did not like that or that she still had a cordial relationship with the mayor. But this is what the DA does, they use and spit you out after you have served a purpose which was to retain the ward.
“She received the letter from the DA on Saturday to explain why she should not be removed from the party but she was unclear about the timelines to respond by and then the next day she was axed.”
George disputes allegations that they removed her because of suspicions about their failed motion. He said the ability to remove councillors who defy caucus resolutions was as a result of the lessons learnt in having to go to court to remove former Knysna mayor, Mark Willemse.
“It was a secret ballot and I don’t know who voted against our motion and we did not want to operate under a climate of suspicion on who voted how, maybe it was her, I don’t know. But I never accused anyone and that was not why she was removed,” he said.
Community leaders in the area have decried the DA’s move Opperman stating that the chopping and changing of councillors for political power moves hampered service delivery for communities in dire need for leadership.
“Lorraine was used and when she stood up for her community she was spit out. The DA did the same with Councillor Velile Waxa and all the other black mayors and councillors all over the Western Cape,” said Knysna United’s Ralph Stander.
“We will never fall for the DA's racist tricks. Knysna will never be DA again and the DA stand no chance in the upcoming by-election.”
The Good party says they are eager to take the ward off the DA’s hands as the move to axe Opperman might derail the party’s chances of retaining the ward for the second time.
“Lorraine was used to win a by-election, to turn a (community) fed-up with the DA to again vote for the DA.We know that the community's eyes will now finally be opened. First they got rid of Councillor Pofadder and now Ant Lorraine. Who will be next if they open their mouths,” said the party’s John Williams.
“GOOD is ready to fight and win the by-election and to change the landscape of politics in Knysna.”