Marissa Jansen van Vuuren, the former DA councillor sacked for misconduct two years ago but now running as an independent in the local government poll, faced a grilling at public meeting at the Blouberg community hall, which five people attended.
At the meeting, Ms Jansen van Vuuren spoke about her plans to retake Ward 23 and said “party politics” was behind her dismissal in 2014 (“No confidence in councillor,” Tabletalk, July 30 2014).
At the time, she was accused of being responsible for a breakdown of communication between herself and the rest of the ward committee, a lack of transparency in her decision making, failure to consult with committee members about council matters, incompetence in chairing meetings, verbally abusing people at public meetings and keeping incomplete minutes at public meetings (“Sacked councillor’s election bid,” Tabletalk, Wednesday, July 27).
However, Ms Jansen van Vuuren told the meeting that the decision to oust her from office had not been influenced by the community’s opinion of her. Suggesting that her dismissal was the result of political intrigue, she said: “They had their reasons. Maybe it was some hidden agenda. But that’s politics.”
She labelled the DA’s handling of her case as “unconstitutional”.
“But I am honest and I’m standing here again,” she said, before rattling off a list of things she said she had done while at the helm of Ward 23, including repairing the beachfront bathrooms, installing lights from Dolphin Beach to Melkbosstrand NSRI, laying the groundwork for the MyCiTi route to Melkbosstrand and starting the CCTV camera project in the ward.
“My record stands and people can decide whether or not I should be councillor.”
However those at the meeting questioned why she had disappeared off the community’s radar and not attended meetings to stay in touch with people’s concerns, after being sacked as a councillor.
“It was not the community who shut her down, it was the structure,” said resident Alex Lepnik.
“She should’ve kept contact with the community. It was a DA issue.”
Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) chairwoman Mandy da Matta asked Ms Jansen van Vuuren how, if elected councillor, she would deal with community issues in sub-council chambers where two thirds of the members could possibly be from the same party and vote together.
“How do you service a ward when you’re being stamped out of council? How do you deal with a two-thirds majority vote?” Ms Da Matta asked.
Ms Jansen van Vuuren replied that she would be honest with individuals and hopefully influence them by building trust.
“If people trust you in other parties, you can get them to vote with you. Let’s see who the two-thirds majority will be.”
She also said she had her own way of getting things done, and would “work directly with officials” who would ”jump at projects if I asked for their funding, because they get a lot of criticism if they don’t spend their budget”.
Regarding her lack of attendance at public meetings, Ms Jansen van Vuuren said she had attended a TVRA meeting once or twice, but acknowledged that she should attend more .
Responding to Ms Jansen van Vuuren’s accusation that the DA had acted unconstitutionally against her, the chairman of the party’s federal council, James Selfe, said the matter “had been thoroughly traversed in court and was found to be without any merit”.