A year after being sacked as Ward 4 councillor, Tando Jafta has come forward, claiming he was set up to fail by a “racist” DA.
Mr Jafta says he is now ready to tell his side of the story because he has started a construction company and wants to clear his name.
But Ward 113 councillor and DA constituency chairperson Dr Joy McCarthy has dismissed Mr Jafta’s allegations of racism and mistreatment as “as just the sour grapes of a former councillor”. And community leaders in the very neighbourhoods Mr Jafta claims to have prioritised during his time as councillor say they are glad to be rid of him.
After being voted in as Ward 4 councillor in August 2016, Mr Jafta was in office for only four months before he was suspended for not fulfilling his duties.
The DA got rid of him in May 2017, and he was replaced by Wandisile Ngeyi in a by-election held three months later (“By-election battle lines drawn,” Tabletalk, August 5, 2017).
Now more than a year later, Mr Jafta has come forward saying he was issued the same letter of dismissal as the DA gave to embattled mayor Patricia de Lille last month.
“Next year another black public officer will receive one,” said Mr Jafta.
The relationship between Ms De Lille and the DA has hit rock bottom: the party has accused her of misconduct and Ms De Lille lost her mayoral chain after the DA caucus turned on her; she has accused it of pursuing a witch-hunt against her and has won a temporary court reprieve giving her back the mayoral chain.
Mr Jafta said that when he had applied to be a DA councillor he had not known he would be a candidate for Ward 4, as he had expressed interest in Ward 105, where he is from.
He had only learnt of his appointment to Ward 4 after reading about it in Tabletalk.
He had not minded, though, as he had been prepared to serve wherever he was placed.
However, from the outset, he had faced “a lot of resistance”, in particular from then DA branch chairman Peter Adrianatos, constituency chairwoman Dr McCarthy and interim DA branch executive Henk Hugo.
Mr Jafta referred to them as the “three musketeers” and claimed they had made his life “a living hell” and had treated him “like the garden boy”.
“They all, from head of the constituency to branch executives, told me that we were never going to win the elections in Ward 4, as they had a weak link in me.
“I proved them wrong by making good progress with a small canvassing team. We all knew my stay would be short-lived, and I was there to prove them wrong,” said Mr Jafta.
He believes the charges against him were unfair, including an allegation that he left a council meeting without tendering an apology.
“I did not leave the meeting early. I stayed until the end. I left immediately after it ended to get to another community meeting,” he said.
Dr McCarthy, Mr Adrianatos and Mr Hugo had run a smear campaign against him, spreading lies that he was an alcoholic, he claimed.
“I don’t have a drinking problem,” he said.
He said he had spent most of his time in Joe Slovo and Phoenix because that was where he “saw the greatest need”.
However, Phoenix Ratepayers’ Association chairwoman Ursula Marshall said Mr Jafta had no clue what a councillor’s duties were.
“It can’t be because of racism that he was kicked out. It’s because he did not fulfil his requirements as a councillor. When you compare the quality of what a working councillor does, such as Ward 55 councillor Fabian Ah-Sing, then you can see he did nothing for Phoenix,” said Ms Marshall.
Joe Slovo resident Albert Bobotyana, who serves on the Joe Slovo Crisis Committee, said when the community had needed their councillor he had been nowhere to be found.
“A few of the crisis committee members needed his help with signing some documents, and they went all the way to Fisantekraal to look for him. When they got there, he was not home, and people pointed them to a shebeen where he was drinking. He was so drunk he couldn’t even help them with the paperwork,” said Mr Bobotyana.
Chairman of the Summer Greens Ratepayers’ Association, Bridgette Lloyd said Mr Jafta attended one or two meetings in her area but “did nothing tangible” for the community.
“He was introduced one minute and missing in action the next. He was not a present councillor,” said Ms Lloyd.
She wished him well with future endeavours,saying everyone deserved a second chance.
Mr Jafta said he had decided to not attend his disciplinary hearing last year as he had known the outcome would not be in his favour, and he admitted that by that time he had also “wanted to be fired”.
“I started regretting joining the party. I left the ANC because I felt Jacob Zuma was not a good leader, and I didn’t want to join Cope, so I opted for the DA,” he said.
Mr Jafta has since rejoined the ANC and said he would gladly serve as councillor again but only in an area he was from.
“I want to clear my name so people can understand I did not fail on my part. I was more than capable. It was irrelevant pressures imposed on me which were racially discriminating and I was undermined as a black person.”
But Dr McCarthy said the DA was committed to finding election candidates who were reliable, hard-working and served their communities with passion.
“We also hold all of our public representatives to a rigorous performance assessment and target setting system.”
Mr Jafta had been unable to perform his duties effectively and competently, she said.
“He missed meetings, was not present or visible in his ward, and alienated residents and ratepayers’ organisation. He failed all of his performance reviews. When this happens, the DA does not hesitate to take appropriate action.
“Voters must be able to trust that we will act to defend their best interests, and that the DA will not defend or protect bad public representatives,” she said.
Mr Adrianatos rejected the claims made against him saying Mr Jafta had been given many opportunities to step up and make good but had failed to do so.
“In my opinion, he was not passionate to the DA Party, or to the position, or to his electorate. In my opinion, he was not committed nor wanted to improve and grow here in Ward 4.
He was given a great life opportunity which he failed to embrace and show commitment to listen, adapt and grow,” he said.
Tabletalk could not speak to Henk Hugo, the other DA member Mr Jafta referred to, as he is overseas.
DA Cape Metro chairperson Grant Twigg said Mr Jafta was given ample time to get to know his community but instead he “alienanted himself”.
He added that it was preferable that a councillor live in the ward they serve but not a must.