Former Ward 23 DA councillor Marissa Jansen van Vuuren, booted from office and the party for misconduct, has returned… as an independent candidate in the local government elections.
One of only 14 independent candidates in this year’s elections, Ms Jansen van Vuuren is gunning for her old post. Ward 23 includes Melkbosstrand, Table View, Cape Farms, District B (east of West Coast Road and west of R304, north of Sunningdale/Parklands built-up area), Big Bay, Blaauwbergstrand and Blouberg.
According to the Independent Electorate Commission (IEC) independent candidates have to pay R1 000 to stand. A two-week search for Ms Jansen van Vuuren ended on deadline on Tuesday July 26, when an email popped into our inbox from “Mariesa Lombard”, about a Ward 23 public meeting that night in Blouberg.
She said the meeting would be non-political and would address “many issues in the ward”. When Tabletalk called her cell number, Ms Jansen van Vuuren confirmed she is an independent candidate, in the process of reclaiming her From page 1
maiden name, Lombard, and is now a resident of Bloubergstrand.
Tabletalk had started its search for Ms Jansen Van Vuuren two weeks ago. We called the cellphone number we had on our records, but it was no longer in service. The search continued on Facebook where we found someone matching her profile but several messages to the inbox went unanswered.
We had tried her former colleagues and admin staff at Sub-council 1, hoping they might have a phone number or address for her. But no one could help.
We had even canvassed the Melkbosstrand area asking the police station, library and several businesses if they knew where she lived. No luck. There were also no campaign posters bearing her name or picture in the town itself.
Smokie la Grange, chairperson of the Melkbosstrand Ratepayers’ Association (MRA) was unaware of Ms Jansen van Vuuren’s candidacy when Tabletalk approached her for comment.
“This is a very interesting development,” said Ms La Grange.
She said the only posters she had seen were for the DA and the Freedom Front Plus (FF +).
“I have not even seen a poster of Hendrik Sackson for the ANC,” she said.
Tabletalk approached the Independent Electorate Commission (IEC) as well as the DA for her contact details but they were not able to help. And then, on Tuesday we received her email.
Ms Jansen Van Vuuren made a less than graceful exit from the DA after members of the Ward 23 committee tabled a vote of no confidence against her (“No confidence in councillor,” Tabletalk, July 30 2014).
In October 2013, committee member Roy Fuller-Gee introduced the motion. Minutes of the meeting described several accusations, including a breakdown of communication between Ms Jansen van Vuuren and the rest of the committee, a lack of transparency in her decision making, no consultation with committee members about council matters, incompetence in chairing meetings, verbally abusing people at public meetings and incomplete minutes at public meetings.
John Taylor, who was chairman of the MRA at the time, said there had been an “extensive” list of people who supported the motion.
The DA terminated Ms Jansen van Vuuren’s membership after she was found guilty on four charges of misconduct (“Councillor appeals against charges of misconduct,” Tabletalk, July 30 2014).
At the time, the DA’s federal legal support officer, Thora Viljoen, told the Tabletalk that Ms Jansen van Vuuren had been “found guilty of some of the allegations, and the panel recommended the termination of her membership of the DA”.
She said further that “the allegations came from all over – in the ward and not in the ward”.
Responding at the time, Ms Jansen van Vuuren said the charges were “frivolous and vindictive and brought by a few connected individuals with their own agenda” (“By-election to be held in Ward 23,” Tabletalk, August, 2014). She expressed disappointment in the DA structures for allowing the matter to be pre-judged and conducting what she described as a flawed internal disciplinary process, which had not run its full course.
Ms Jansen van Vuuren appealed the decision but was unsuccessful and a by-election was held in November 2014 in which Nora Grose was voted in as the new Ward 23 councillor (“Candidates vie for Ward 23,” Tabletalk, November 5 2014). This week Ms Jansen Van Vuuren maintained her stance from 2014, that the disciplinary process had been flawed and evidence tampered with. She said her candidacy for councillor is borne out of her “passion for the community”.
“I am reaffirming my commitment to the community. Politics is not an investment. You either do it or you don’t,” she said.
Ms Grose declined to comment about Ms Jansen Van Vuuren running for Ward 23 but said that it was her democratic right to stand as an independent candidate.
“I heard from people in the area that she was canvassing the area for votes. Someone gave me one of her flyers but there were no contact details on it,” said Ms Grose.