The DA continued to lose top members to ActionSA with the latest loss being Michael Shackleton, the party’s former member at parliament and second-in-charge in Tshwane leadership.
DA Gauteng legislature member and party’s shadow minister for community safety, Shackleton resigned on Thursday.
“One of the reasons why I resigned was because of how the DA has treated our community [Ward 96] since 2016 and now in this by-election.
“I saw how the DA did nothing to support calls by former councillor Hannes Coetzee [who also left the party for |ActionSA] to investigate the corruption behind the Rooiwal wastewater treatment plant tender,” he said.
The 34-year-old Shackleton said recent moves by the DA such as Tshwane mayor Randall Williams’ visit to the plant were made late as parties vie for the May by-elections, following Coetzee’s resignation.
Last month, Williams requested an investigation into flagged irregularities in the supply chain processes for the multi-million plant upgrade project.
This investigation follows a court win by the contractor after the municipality cancelled the deal, citing that the contractors were “unable to deliver on work to limit substandard work,” according to parliament.
“Now, when there is a by-election happening in our ward, suddenly, it is like the DA realised for the first time that my ward and my community existed,” Shackleton said.
“Suddenly, Williams cares enough to come into our community and speak about our ward’s service delivery needs.
“Suddenly, John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille are in our ward every other day – pretending that they care about this ward. But where were they? Where were they over the last six years? Where were they when our ward needed them?
“The answer is: they were nowhere to be found and I believe they will be nowhere to be found the day after the by-elections.”
He said over the years while the DA was at the helm of the municipality, it forgot about the needs of people in ward 96 in the north of Pretoria.
“I saw how DA leaders were nowhere to be found when the Pyramid substation burnt down and when Coetzee was working with metro technicians through many nights to restore electricity,” he said.
DA Gauteng chairperson Fredrick Nel said Shackleton was simply “peddling lies” in his resignation statement about lack of support to councillors.
“He is being dishonest that the party did not offer support to our councillors and him because there was extensive support given.
“In Tshwane, when the municipality was placed under administration the party made sure there was financial and emotional support given to the councillors.
“So it is lies to say there was no support,” Nel said.
On losing top members, Nel said the party did not have a “major problem” with the defections to ActionSA as the people who left were either going to “leave anyway.”
“I am not concerned about some of the people who left. Most of them were leaving the party in any case because they lost internal elections or just failed within the DA.
“Very few of them played a significant role in the DA. The majority of them were not much of a loss to us.”
Losses of the party weakened it, Nel said “it is disappointing that ActionSA focuses on the DA while it should be focusing on unseating the bigger problem which is the ANC.”
Shackleton is the latest long-serving DA member to join the newly formed party whose foundation was made up of disgruntled former DA members.
– Former DA Gauteng leader John Moodey left the party for the DA in 2020 and joined ActionSA
– Former Tshwane DA leader Abel Tau left the DA in 2020 and joined ActionSA
– Ward 96 Hannes Coetzee resigned from being a DA council in 2022 and joined ActionSA.
Shackleton joins the party as the by-election for ward 96 heats up. The campaigns leading to the May by-election of the ward that was previously won by the DA have seen the likes of Zille and Steenhuisen campaigning in the communities in the north of Pretoria.
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