CENTRAL KAROO FILES
DA and PA again at loggerheads — this time over ‘missing’ R3m from Gayton McKenzie’s gala dinner fundraiser
Money raised by the then Central Karoo mayor Gayton McKenzie that was supposed to be used for service delivery came under scrutiny this week during a picket by the DA. While McKenzie has left office, questions remain about the R3m that was raised for the region, but has not been deposited into the municipality’s bank accounts.
Months after Patriotic Alliance (PA) President Gayton McKenzie resigned as mayor of the Central Karoo District Municipality (CKDM), questions are still being asked about funds for the eradication of bucket toilets in the area, raised at a glitzy gala dinner and which are claimed to have landed up in a bank account linked to the head of legal affairs at the PA.
On Thursday, 29 June, members of the Democratic Alliance (DA) held a picket outside the CKDM offices in Beaufort West calling for answers over the R3-million raised by McKenzie at a luxury gala dinner in Sandton in 2022.
In June, reports from News24 claimed money raised at the exclusive fundraiser meant for service delivery issues — particularly to fix swimming pools and to replace bucket toilets in the region — landed in the bank account of Eugene Botha, who is the PA’s national head of legal affairs.
Botha claimed to News24 that the money would be treated as donations to the PA and would therefore be declared to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).
On Thursday, the DA caucus leader in Beaufort West, Schaun Meyers, said the PA made a “very clear promise to residents that these funds will be used to improve service delivery… neither the municipality nor the residents in the Central Karoo have seen a single cent of the R3-million and service delivery remains as poor as ever”.
The matter of the R3-million was flagged by the South African Communist Party in August 2022, which lodged a complaint with the Public Protector, Weekend Argus reported at the time.
McKenzie became mayor of the district in April 2022 after he became a councillor for the PA in the Laingsburg Municipality. After he was appointed as councillor, he was seconded as the council’s representative on the district council.
In celebration of his 100 days in office as mayor, McKenzie invited media, party members and guests including billionaire Rob Hersov to an event in Beaufort West where McKenzie declared his 2024 presidential ambitions.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘I will run for President in 2024’, Central Karoo Mayor Gayton McKenzie says after 100 days in office
McKenzie resigned as mayor on 2 May 2023. In his farewell speech, he made claims of fixing several public pools and eradicating the bucket system. While McKenzie’s social media accounts displayed replaced bucket toilets and fixed swimming pools, during Daily Maverick’s visit to the area in May, only one pool was functional and while some flush toilets had been installed, residents questioned who would pay for the upkeep as they live on land owned by Transnet.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Ex-Karoo mayor Gayton McKenzie’s claims regarding swimming pools, bucket toilets and Eskom debt under scrutiny
Daily Maverick approached PA spokesperson Steve Motale on Thursday about the DA’s picket and asked if McKenzie would account for the missing money, but had not received a response by the time of publication.
On McKenzie’s Facebook platform this week, he said in reference to the planned picket that the DA was “taking big, big chances” and that he had nothing to hide. He said he had written to the council on 17 June. However, in the screenshots he posted, an email he sent to new CKDM Mayor Johanna Botha is dated 19 June.
The Democratic Alliance is taking chances, big chances. The truth shall come out. I have nothing to hide, I don’t report to the media. I have written to council on the 17th of June already. Lies have short legs. pic.twitter.com/PRnode1WZT
— Gayton McKenzie (@GaytonMcK) June 28, 2023
Coalition partnerships turned bad: DA and PA
This isn’t the first time the PA and DA have been at loggerheads. Following a war of words between the two parties in April, the PA announced it would withdraw from its coalitions in the province, including in Matzikama and Knysna.
PA ward councillor Christo Boks from the Matzikama municipality left the party to join the DA and then, in a July by-election, he regained his seat as ward councillor.
In the Cederberg municipality, DA speaker and ward councillor William Josef Farmer resigned from his ward and joined the PA. He then lost his seat in a closely contested by-election in October. The PA also left the DA-led coalition in the Johannesburg council in September 2022.
Read more in Daily Maverick: PA benefits from absent DA to trounce ANC in Joburg ward, but ruling party records crucial win over IFP in KZN
More recently, the PA won Ward 7 in Johannesburg this week. The DA did not contest the by-election after its candidate withdrew from the race on 16 June. According to the DA, the candidate, Randell Markgraaff, “had been invited to a meeting with Gayton McKenzie and said he wanted to attend as there was a possibility of being offered up to R5-million in order to move with his family to Cape Town”. DM