DA’s agent of change in the Bay: Daily Dispatch

The Democratic Alliance on Thursday announced its biggest victory in the Eastern Cape after the party clinched the majority vote for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in Wednesday’s local government elections. DA mayoral candidate Athol Trollip yesterday spoke to Simthandile Ford about his future plans.

QUESTION: How has the journey been since the party decided to go for the Bay and then finally, wrestling control from the ANC this week? ANSWER: I have attended more than 1 200 campaign stops since September last year – house meetings, street meetings, door-to-door activities, debates, rallies, marches, protests and oversight visits. This has been a roller coaster, with some incredible highs and some unfortunate lows, but through it all, I have remained resolute on one notion: that change is possible in Nelson Mandela Bay, that our dreams of better service delivery and job creation are possible, and that our hopes for genuine social cohesion can become a reality.

Q: What motivated the party to want to govern the metro?

A: We want to govern as many municipalities as possible. The DA is deeply honoured to emerge as the largest party in Nelson Mandela Bay, and we are grateful for this mandate from NMB voters. For too long, poor governance, corruption and maladministration have plagued the people of this metro. Those days are over.

Q: How was the pressure in the last few days of campaigning?

A: It was a tense few days, but I believed we could win because over the last year, I’ve seen how our message of hope and our offer of better governance resonated with so many residents. The people of this metro are ready for better service delivery, and a growing economy that creates jobs. Residents are also disillusioned with the previous government that never delivered on promises and fostered maladministration and corruption.

Q:  In your opinion, how would you say the IEC conducted the elections.

A:  There were some serous concerns aorund the securing of marked and counted ballot papers, which we’ve taken up with the IEC, but otherwise we were reasonably satisfied.  I have a grave frustration that the IEC does not learn from experience from one election to the next and doesn ot adapt its practices to avoid repretitive problems that frustrate a smooth election day.

Q:  What was the mood in the metro and within the Democratic Allaince when the results started trickling in?

A:  Sincere gratitude that voters had endorsed our offer with such conviction.  It was a clear indication that the people of this metro were absolutely ready for change, and for a new govenrment with a mission to take the Bay forward again.  This has been an endorsement of our constitutional democracy and shows that democratic power lies in the hands of voters, not the government.
Q: The Nelson Mandela Bay election was thrown into crisis on Thursday amid allegations that stacks of ballot papers were found lying unsecured in a tent at the IEC’s regional operations centre. Did the incident cause any panic in the party?
A: Yes, we were very alarmed. We immediately reported the issue and received feedback from the IEC that the ballot papers had already been counted. We were concerned that the IEC were negligent in not securing the premises and ballots properly and more concerned that a former ANC mayor gained access to the premises without due authorisation.
Q: What are the first two things you will do if you take office?
A: Ensure that the IDP [Integrated Development Planning] is in line with our manifesto and begin working to improve service delivery.
Q: Are there any coalitions on the cards?
A: Yes, we need four more seats to form a government. We are in talks with numerous parties at present.
Q: In terms of the administration of the Bay, is there any possible specific focus?
A: Better service delivery, stopping corruption and growing the economy to create jobs.
Q: Is there any plan for the DA to govern Buffalo City Metro?
A: Yes, we do plan to win Buffalo City and will use this experience to achieve this in the next election.