Members of the Western Cape legislature sat through a marathon three-hour-and-20-minute State of the Province Address debate on a stormy and wet Tuesday afternoon — but exchanges between Bonginkosi Madikizela and Brett Herron on social housing and transport in Cape Town grabbed the attention.
Tuesday’s debate followed new premier Alan Winde’s maiden State of the Province Address on 18 July. Winde was elected premier after the sixth national and provincial elections after the DA’s third straight provincial election victory in May 2019.
It was Peter Marais, the Freedom Front Plus MPL, the colourful chameleon and veteran of Western Cape politics, who said “we’re playing dollhouse — pophuisie” during Tuesday’s debate in Cape Town. But while many MPLs heckled and openly laughed at his speech, the tone was more serious as DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela took on Good party member Brett Herron almost immediately. And Herron did not hold back either.
Madikizela, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business in the Western Cape Legislature, described Herron’s comments on the prolonged MyCiti disruption on the Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain routes as “a red herring” — as Herron had previously stated that “he (Winde) would know that the DA has stopped MyCiTi services to Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain, exacerbating our public transport crisis”, and criticised the ongoing stalemate to get services running on those bus lines.
Madikizela then called on national Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille to release national government-owned land in Cape Town for housing.
The animosity between Madikizela and Herron stems from Herron and De Lille’s infamous resignations from the City of Cape Town and the DA in spectacular fashion in late 2018. Their new political home, Good, was launched in December 2018, with De Lille taking up the position as party leader and Herron secretary-general of the party. Before the formation of Good, De Lille had been mayor of Cape Town while her long-time ally Herron was the mayoral committee member for Transport and Urban Development.
Herron did not hold back in his criticism of Madikizela and Winde, stating he was “surprised” that he (Herron) had featured so extensively in Madikizela’s speech.
“Integrity is when your actions show you are delivering what you say. What I heard was gimmicks and excuses,” said Herron.
“The premier pretends to be powerless. Powerless to improve rail without getting control of the rail service. Powerless to release land unless the national government does it first. Powerless to stop crime unless he gets a provincial police force,” he said.
“For thousands of lives being lost to violent crime, the premier suggests a new committee. The premier promises a war room but that war room will not even consider the actual war happening on the Cape Flats,” Herron said.
Madikizela and Herron were not the only ones to exchange verbal blows.
In between several MPLs quoting Nelson Mandela, due to Winde’s address taking place on Mandela Day, the DA and ANC caucuses kept shouting at each other. They traded verbal blows over Helen Zille’s leadership, after several DA MPLs praised her 10-year tenure as Western Cape premier, over the army on the Cape Flats, the rail service, which level of government is responsible for services such as police, housing and transport, as well as over rising inequality in the Western Cape.
Speaker Masizole Mnqasela and deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer had to call on MPLs to quieten down several times over the course of the lengthy debate.
Winde will respond to the debate on Thursday afternoon in the legislature. DM