A CHAMPION of the One City campaign at the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, former DP councillor and now leader of the DA in Bhisho Bobby Stevenson says the novelty of the rainbow nation has worn off.
Stevenson was one of the main drivers of the campaign pushing for an agreement to phase out the all-white city council in 1991.
The ANC and DP had joined forces to dissolve the ethnic structures which were the white council, Ebhayi council, the coloured Northern Areas Management Committee and Malabar Management Committee, representing the Indian community.
“I was one of the main people pushing for the One City agreement. It was such a vibrant and exciting time to be part of history in the making,” Stevenson said.
“It was great being part of something that we were working towards. It was something I was very passionate about.”
He was also part of Port Elizabeth’s Transitional Local Council, headed by former mayor Nceba Faku.
“There was a lot of political tension in the council, but it never got to a point where people were having a go at each other. There was also a fight back from administration officials, but they soon fell in line.
“The debates in council were done in good spirit and the members of the ANC then were strong and of high quality.
“There was that good feeling of a rainbow nation, which has now virtually evaporated.”
Stevenson was the first councillor to raise a motion in the council to remove segregation laws at all beaches and pools in Port Elizabeth.
“From my side, there was a deep urgency to free PE from the scourge of apartheid, so I campaigned to get the beaches and pools open, as black, coloured and Indian people were not allowed on Hobie Beach,” he said.
Stevenson said local government was now in shambles. “You see cadre deployment, massive corruption, factionalism and infighting.”