Tensions are mounting in the Democratic Alliance as the party starts finalising its candidates’ lists, and some party members realise they may lose their jobs and incomes as town and metro councillors.
The influence of the Freemasons and an alleged plot to sideline former members of Patricia de Lille’s Independent Democrats are two of the main concerns bugging DA members as the party finalises its candidates’ lists.
DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said he calls it “nominitis” – an affliction of the jitters candidates get at nomination time, when they blame their possible failure on plots to sideline them and those they identify with.
At the moment, the DA is abuzz with rumours that the Freemasons are taking a hand in compiling the DA candidates’ lists in Tshwane, and that ID members, notably Eden District Municipality mayor Wessie van der Westhuizen, may be sidelined in the Western Cape.
In Tshwane, the allegation is made that Freemasons are banding together to keep non-Freemasons out of council positions.
DA MP Brandon Topham, a prominent Freemason and former DA Tshwane mayoral candidate, rubbished the claims on Friday.
“The Freemasons are not a secret society and do not take oaths. Some people who do not believe all men are created equal, use it as a bogeyman, as the Broederbond did in the previous dispensation.
“It is true that women are not admitted to be masons, but that is more out of tradition and respect for family these days.
“Anyone can be invited to become a Freemason if he does not have a criminal record and has not been declared sequestrated.
“The basic idea is of charitable work and friendship. If two men are drowning and one is a brother [Freemason], you would save the brother first and then the other,” explained Topham.
He said although the Freemasons had a specific handshake, sign and password, this was only used to establish trust, and could not be used to keep non-Freemasons out of political positions.
In fact, Topham claimed, there were only about 30 DA public representatives nationwide who were Freemasons.
“If that was done, such a person would be ejected as a Freemason, because we expect only the highest standards of ethics from our members,” said Topham.
He also said that many Freemasons in Tshwane had applied unsuccessfully to be candidates, that anyone who was unhappy could appeal, and that the process was such that individuals could not manipulate it.
Selfe said the problem at nomination time was the same as with someone whose mother told them they could sing beautifully, but then they did not make it onto Idols.
“In politics, it is best to get up when you feel dejected, dust yourself off and try again. I had to learn that many times early in my career,” said the party veteran, who was rejected as DP candidate in Simonstown in 1989 in favour of someone who crossed the floor to the ANC.
Selfe explained that prospective candidates had to pass through several rounds of interviews, online written tests and marks given for political activity according to the PDMS system before they could be nominated.
He said about 7 000 prospective candidates were still in the running, and about 120 appeals are being processed.
Regarding a perceived purging of former ID members out of senior position in the Western Cape, the provincial DA leader Patricia de Lille said no special deal was arranged to accommodate or alienate former ID members in the DA.
“We are all DA; not former this or that. Everyone has to compete on merit through the correct process.”
The DA is holding back the candidates’ lists of the 23 Western Cape councils which it controls because of a public ANC campaign to entice disgruntled DA councillors to support ANC-proposed council budgets.
Regarding Van der Westhuizen, who was beaten to the Oudtshoorn DA mayoral candidate position by local teacher Colin Sylvester, allegations that members of the DA leadership had conspired against Van der Westhuizen, was denied by DA eastern region leader Jaco Londt.
“It is untrue,” Londt said, “and those who make such accusations are creating diversions.”
But local sources claimed on Friday that a disciplinary hearing against Van der Westhuizen regarding the payment of ANC councillors who crossed the floor to the DA in Oudtshoorn, was being used to keep him out of the town’s top job.
They said all will be revealed when affidavits are made public at the conclusion of the disciplinary hearing.