TVRA boss plans to run for office

ATHINA MAY

The Table View Ratepayers’ Association (TVRA) has tackled Sub-council 1 on various issues, ranging from informal trading to fireworks, and now its chairman Leon Alhadeff has decided that “if you can’t beat them, join them” and will be running for ward councillor in the upcoming municipal elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has announced that registration for the municipal elections takes place on the weekend of Saturday March 5 and Sunday March 6. South Africans with a green bar-coded ID, smartcard ID, or valid temporary identity certificate can register. Voters can also register at IEC offices during office hours.

Mr Alhadeff made his announcement at the Table View Ratepayers’ meeting on Monday February 1. Addressing the meeting, he took a deep breath and said, “I stood before you for nine months saying I am apolitical, but I’ve had a change of heart.”

“I’ve lost it, I’m done with wasting my time and fighting the rules that govern the ward committee. More importantly, I’m tired of hearing the City gets what the City wants. I am making myself available for ward councillor.”

If voted into council, Mr Alhadeff will no longer be able to serve as the TVRA chairman, because councillors are not allowed to serve on two committees.

According to the code of conduct for councillors, a councillor is required to represent local communities and to meet the priority needs of communities by providing services equitably, effectively and sustainably within the means of the municipality.

Councillors must be accountable to communities and report back at least quarterly to constituencies on council matters, including the performance of the municipality in order to ensure that councillors fulfil their obligations to their communities.

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Mr Alhadeff is both an active and controversial community leader, having locked horns with Ward 23 councillor Nora Grose on serveral issues including an incident in May last year when accusations of racism flew back and forth between the two.

Ms Grose had shared a Facebook post about an Afrikaans poem, Die Boerevolk Staan Saam, with a picture of the old apartheid-era defence force troops on parade in their brown uniforms (“Councillor caught in race spat,” Tabletalk, May 20 2015). Later that month, the shoe was on the other foot, with Ms Grose accusing the TVRA of being racially and politically motivated in its objection to the City’s plans to formalise informal trading in Parklands.

Before Mr Alhadeff’s formal announcement that he would make himself available as a candidate in the upcoming municipal elections, he spoke to Tabletalk about his decision. Reclining in his seat, wearing camouflage shorts and a blue shirt, Mr Alhadeff put his feet up on the table and politely asked for permission to smoke a cigarette as we spoke.

Between puffs, Mr Alhadeff said: “I am on record so many times saying that I don’t have a political agenda. But I made up my mind. I needed to tell the community. I decided upon candidacy but I am still waiting for it to be approved. But the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) highlighted that they do want me on their team,” said Mr Alhadeff.

With his phone buzzing at 10-minute intervals, Mr Alhadeff excused himself to answer a resident’s call for help.

“The community looks to me for guidance and help. A community member contacted me at 5.45am saying that he urgently needed help as he was leaving the country. They should be contacting the councillors – not me,” said Mr Alhadeff, charging his phone with one of the three power banks he carries around.

He said that by running for council, he hoped to be able to bring the community’s voice to council meetings. “I want to get out there and make a difference in the community. I believe I deserve that chance.”

Mr Alhadeff said he started considering running for ward councillor after his father had died last year and his brother, who visited from America, encouraged him to pursue his desire to improve the community.

“Many are disillusioned with the current lay of the land and what is currently happening. It’s not so much about me, but about seeking an alternative solution (to the DA). There are other options,” said Mr Alhadeff.

ACDP member of the provincial legislature (MPL) Grant Haskin said Mr Alhadeff had approached the party to offer his candidacy. The application, he said, was still going through the selection process.

Mr Haskin said Mr Alhadeff’s stood a good chance of being approved, given his track record in the community.

“I’m very happy about it. He takes his community work very seriously, and he doesn’t give up easily when presented with a challenge. He has tenacity and determination – characteristics we look for in council members,” said Mr Haskin.

While Mr Alhadeff might be a good candidate, the ACDP, however, has not fared too well in past municipal elections, with the DA dominating wards in Blaauwberg in the 2011 election.

The DA made a clean sweep across wards in Blaauwberg, losing only one ward to the ANC, (“DA romps home in City wards,” Tabletalk, May 25, 2011), with the ACDP not winning any seats in the sub-council. But this has not deterred the party, and said Mr Alhadeff, the DA hold on power needed to be broken.

“The ACDP is not looking to run the country, but at having a power sharing deal.”

Mr Alhadeff, who has been the TVRA chairman since May 2015, will not be the first TVRA chairperson to enter politics. Ward 4 councillor Dr Joy McCarthy, also made the transition from TVRA chairperson to councillor.

Dr McCarthy said she had a call from Mr Alhadeff explaining his decision to run for political office.

“Two years ago when we had a meeting, I explained to him what being a councillor entails, but he assured me he was not a political person and had no interest in politics.

“Now he’s in the exact same situation I was in. If you want to make a difference, you must run for council. If he thinks he can do a great job, then great. I have no issue with Leon running for council,” she said.

Mr Alhadeff, however, is aware there’s a chance he may not be elected. “If I fail, I fail, but I am prepared to put my money where my mouth is, because I believe I can do a better job than the councillors.”

The final date for the municipal elections has not yet been proclaimed, but the IEC said it must be held within 90 days of the previous election date which was May 18, 2011.

“So the elections must take place between May 18 and August 16, 2016. The actual date will be announced by the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs,” the IEC website said.

For details about the elections visit www. elections.org.za