Op-Ed Daily News – “Why I stood my ground”

My protest against the Speaker of eThekwini council at last week’s council meeting was a response to the systematic undermining of the integrity of the council which he is charged with serving. That my action was unbecoming and detracted from the decorum and importance of the eThekwini municipal council is unfortunate but the action was necessary and inevitable.

Daily News p.19 6 June 2013Even to the casual observer, it has been obvious for some months now that fairness and equality has all but deserted the eThekwini council. Cllr Logie Naidoo, in the role of Speaker since Election 2011, has been increasingly partial, displaying overt bias and maintaining alarming double standards in his rulings during council meetings.

The eThekwini council is a democracy. In the 2011 Local Government Elections, the governing party won 62%, the DA 21% and the remaining 17% is shared among the smaller political parties. The democratic institutions which underpin the council provide chiefly the following instruments for democratic participation: questions, motions and debate. The rules which govern our meetings and the exercising of these instruments are the Rules of Order.

Under Cllr James Nxumalo as the previous Speaker, the democratic institutions were upheld and the right of the opposition to make use of questions, motions and debate was respected. However, the past two years in the new term has seen an alarming erosion of the ability of the opposition to exercise its democratic rights in the council.

Questions that the speaker or his party do not like, such as mine last month probing dodgy contracts for fibre optic networks in the City, are disallowed. Questions that do make it onto the agenda are only sometimes answered, with most of the committee chairs responsible for answering them simply reverting that they need more time.

For the past two meetings in a row, the motions we have placed on the council agenda have been held over. I have, for example, had a motion relating to the troubling situation of the City’s crumbling rental housing waiting for 3 months to be debated at a council meeting.

The last straw was the council meeting that I was ejected from, where the Speaker took his authoritarian hand to the next level and summarily ended the speaking time of my colleague Cllr Jethro Lefevre. Every party has an allocation of speaking time based on their performance in the last election. Assuming a councillor sticks within the confines of the Rules of Order, the speaking time is guaranteed. While Cllr Lefevre was halfway through an important speech on City housing, a “point of order” was raised by a councillor opposite us who used the opportunity to debate the substance of Lefevre’s speech – clearly not a point of order, but the Speaker allowed it. Once the commentary was complete, the Speaker decided that was the end of Cllr Lefevre’s speaking time.

The application of the rules of debate and general rules relating to the conduct of meetings is of serious concern to us. While the governing party gets away with racial insults, homophobic taunts, gun shaped hand gestures, random interjections and insults, the rest of the council and the DA in particular are held to a different standard. The situation has become so untenable of late that the DA caucus had actually discussed how we would deal with a situation where one of our councillors was unfairly ejected from the council. We agreed as a caucus that in the event it occurred, we should make a stand and ensure the Speaker understands that his bias and selective application of the rues has consequences.

To the outside observer, the above may seem trivial, but it is important to understand that without the right to make use of these democratic instruments, the opposition may as well be excluded from council meetings. These instruments of participatory democracy are the only tools at our disposal in this multi-party democracy. The denial of that participation, undermines our democracy.

The DA held an official meeting with COGTA MEC Nomusa Dube in November 2012 which covered the performance of the Speaker. The complaints were acknowledged and we were informed that there was unhappiness with Cllr Naidoo’s performance from within the governing party as well. The MEC endeavoured to provide us a report back during December 2012, but it has never been provided to date. As of 21 May 2013, she again assured us that the report would be provided. The MEC is well aware of the concerns that exist around the Speaker but has failed to take action against him.

As reported in your editorial on Monday, the DA is considering taking the matter further, but not on the basis you suggested. We do not contest the right of the Speaker to make a ruling which orders the ejection of a councillor. Neither do we contest that a councillor so ordered should leave the council. However, what we do find highly problematic is the use of hired bodyguards to physically remove a councillor. Only an officer of the law provided for by the Police Act should be used in such instances, and that means SAPS or Metro Police. I have briefed my attorney and await his advice on whether to pursue the matter.

The Speaker’s claim in your paper that the bodyguards were in fact Metro Police officers has been shown to be untrue by the admission after the meeting last week of the Mayor to our caucus leader that Metro Police should have been used, and not his bodyguards, and then by the presence at Tuesday’s Manase Council meeting of over 10 Metro Police officers. If the bodyguards were indeed Metro Police, there would have been no need to bring in additional officers.

What we are experiencing in the eThekwini council is symptomatic of two problems, one localised and the other we are seeing all over the country. First, Cllr Logie Naidoo is unpopular in the governing party, and many of his colleagues want him replaced by Cllr William Mapena. The tension between the two is obvious to anyone watching. For fear of losing his job, Cllr Naidoo favours his party wherever possible and clamps down on the opposition. His colleagues protest loudly whenever he does attempt to bring one of their number in line, and the end result is inevitable. It is only a matter of time before he is replaced from within.

The second problem, and the basis upon which we are considering action, is the growing trend around the country of the opposition being actively blocked from exercising democracy and excluded from participation in councils. We believe there is value in a legal precedent which holds that only officers of the law can forcefully remove a councillor from a meeting. Mayors and Speakers cannot believe that they can used hired security to forcefully remove democratically elected public representatives from doing their jobs. Police officers can be held accountable for their actions, especially given the increasing incidence of violence against opposition activists and politicians. .

My speech to the council and my heckling of the deputy mayor were nothing out of the ordinary. The speech was direct and frank. It was not disrespectful, neither were previous speeches. They are all on the public record in the audio recordings of council meetings and shared via my blog. Heckling is part of politics and every party in council, especially the one in power, participates. My ejection from the council was manufactured because the mayor is opposed to my form of criticism.

My speeches address real issues, in real terms and show the City up for its failure to deliver. My questions probe all manner of cover up, and my motions seek to table workable solutions to a great many problems facing the City. I never get personal, and I never level insults. The Speaker is investigating my conduct because his party are tired of being hit where it hurts, and not because my conduct has been in any way problematic.

I regret that my action detracted from the importance of the council, but as can be seen above, the stakes are important enough that if it happened again, I would stand my ground again and ensure the point is proved. The ruling party won 62% and not 100%. As long as we are engaged in participatory, multi-party democracy, you can expect the DA to fight for fair application of the rules and equitable participation for all.

Warwick Chapman
083 7797 094

The speech that got me physically removed by the Mayor’s bodyguards


Speech to eThekwini Council 29 May 2013

Speaker, what we have seen today in this council is an example of the general malaise affecting this City government, and in this instance specifically, the process by which we review and amend our IDP.

This council is not genuinely interested in real public participation, instead imposing its view on the residents of this city. Mr Speaker, this approach is not altogether dissimilar to your own handling of these council meetings. The rule book is merely a rough guide and you use your majority to make your own rules as you go along.

Mr Speaker, let me provide a few examples.

First, the IDP 2011/12 states the vision of this City as follows:

“By 2020, eThekwini will enjoy the reputation of being Africa’s most caring and liveable city, where all citizens live in harmony.”

However, in 2012/13 something changed, rather surreptitiously, and by its repetition in this IDP confirms it was no error. The last two IDPs reflect a changed vision for our City, and I quote:

“By 2030, eThekwini will be Africa’s most caring and liveable city.”

Now, Mr Speaker, this is interesting for two reasons. First, speaker, the extension, without discussion or motivation of the timeline in our vision by a decade from 2020 to 2030. Clearly, Speaker the ANC realizes that it’s poor track record of delivery crippled by corruption and cronyism has made the achievement of this vision by 2020 impossible.

After all, Mr Speaker, the slums we have built in the form of unserviced transit camps hardly serve as the best example of “caring and liveable”.

Second, how is it that we unilaterally discard the vision of a City “where all citizens live in harmony.” Is this not something so crucial to the spirit of our democracy that we should debate in full the change to our vision to remove this aim? Instead, is it simply edited out.

Speaker, the extra decade is not what is needed to ensure the achievement of this vision. What is required is a change in the attitude of this government. Take, for example, the poor attitude demonstrated by Cllr Nigel Gumede today through his admission of deliberate selective delivery based on political affiliation.

Speaker, the second example draws on the community of Umbilo and the state of the Umbilo Congella Sports Club. This crucial community asset, and the only public hall in the ward, has experienced near destruction as a result of inaction and failure to deliver. If the people of Umbilo were fully and genuinely consulted in the process of establishing regional priorities in the IDP, I assure you that we wouldn’t be waiting until 2014/15 for action to be take in renovating this crucial public facility.

Lastly, Speaker, p178 of this IDP reflects the obligation on this City to ensure “Traffic regulation and supervision in public roads.” As a further demonstration of what I am talking about Mr Speaker, and in spite of community protests against speeding, like the one recently in KwaMashu where school children were being killed, we still have only one mobile speed timing device. Speaker I have brought this failure to deliver to this council’s attention on a repeated basis and the attitude has been to simply ignore what, in the end, is a statutory obligation on this council.

Speaker, the ANC has a 62% majority in this council yet behaves as if it has a 100% majority. Public participation and genuine, meaningful consultation is a crucial component of our democracy. By going through public participation as a check box exercise without any meaningful consultation taking place, the ANC simply wasting the time and money of its residents in what is currently a farce.


Motion: Let’s face it, Flamingo Court was a stuff up…

The Speaker – eThekwini Council
Councillor Logie Naidoo
City Hall

26 May 2013


Dear Mr Speaker


This council noting that:

  • Flamingo Court in Umbilo used to be a council-owned building
  • eThekwini sold the flats in the building to residents
  • Individual metering per unit was not installed for water
  • The body corporate has collapsed, and water debt has crippled the building
  • eThekwini Water has previously applied to courts to cut water from the building completely

Resolves that the Executive Committee investigates and reports back on:

1. eThekwini Municipality must acknowledge that it was negligent in not installing individual metering before transferring the flats to low income owners;
2. A moratorium must be placed on disconnecting the building’s water supply;
3. Individual water meters must be installed urgently;
4. The water debt for the entire building must be written off from the date that the individual meters are installed.



Cllr Warwick Chapman



Cllr Hlanganani Gumbi

Lady Mondegreen, an eggcorn, a malapropism and mumpsimus…

A mondegreen is the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. (eg. “pre-Madonna” instead of “prima donna”)

The unintentionally incorrect use of similar-sounding words or phrases in speaking is a malapropism. (eg. “intensive purposes” instead of “intents and purposes”)

If there is a connection in meaning, it can be called an eggcorn. (eg. “old timers” instead of “Alzheimers”)

If a person stubbornly sticks to a mispronunciation after being corrected, that can be described as mumpsimus.

Just for the sport of it, how about “reverse Mondegreens”:

Some nonsensical lyrics can be interpreted homophonically as rational text. A prominent example is Mairzy Doats, a 1943 novelty song by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston. The lyrics are a mondegreen and it is up to the listener to figure out what they mean.

The refrain of the song repeats nonsensical sounding lines:
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey
A kiddley divey too, wooden shoe

The clue to the meaning is contained in the bridge:
If the words sound queer and funny to your ear, a little bit jumbled and jivey,
Sing “Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy.”

The listener can figure out that the last line of the refrain is “A kid’ll eat ivy, too; wouldn’t you?”, but this line is sung only as a mondegreen.

Change is the only constant…


Dear Friends (and mischievous others)

The media have cottoned onto this so it is the appropriate time for me to clarify publicly.

Effective end June 2013, I have resigned as a councillor of the eThekwini municipality and as Deputy Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal. I have been given an opportunity to apply my professional skillset to a new position which has been created at the DA’s National Head Office in Cape Town, where I will be overseeing the party’s various information systems.

I have served the public in the capacity of ward councillor for nearly five years now. My introduction to elected politics as ward councillor for Pinetown, and then Glenwood / Umbilo was a baptism of fire. Both are challenging communities with difficult issues to fight, and know I am a better public representative for these experiences.

The media, egged on by the mischievous others, have cooked up another story about why I am leaving. Don’t worry about that. The truth boils down to me making a change for myself that allows me to make a more strategic and hopefully more effective contribution to the party and cause I signed up for in late 2007.

I have lived and worked in Ballito and Durban for the past 25+ years of my life and I look forward to the change of City, and the challenges of a new role.

The decision to resign and accept the position offered to me was extremely difficult to make. I have invested myself heavily in the challenges facing the Glenwood and Umbilo community, and in the political challenges facing the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal. Also extremely important to me is the role I play at the Natal Settlers Memorial Homes as the head of a team of passionate individuals who have been setting that crucial social welfare organisation back on the right track over the past year.

I have thus negotiated to stay on in my current position for an additional two months in order to ensure those responsibilities are handed over as effectively and responsibly as possible.

I will miss the people of Glenwood and Umbilo, the wonderful Bulwer Park, the warm ocean and Goundens’ famous bunny chows.

At heart I will always be a Glenwood boy, and an ambassador of KwaZulu-Natal.

I remain committed to the Democratic Alliance as this country’s greatest hope for clean and effective government.

Yours faithfully
Warwick Chapman