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The truth, nothing but the truth

Western Cape provincial building, Cape Town.

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Political parties were scrambling for control of hung councils in the Western Cape on Wednesday, with the DA confirming an agreement with independents in three councils, while the ANC’s coalition with the Independent Civics Association of SA (Icosa) could bring in convicted rapist Jeffrey Donson as mayor in Kannaland when that council sits on Friday.
Last week’s local government elections provided only 17 clear majorities at local government, or municipal, level in the Western Cape, 16 going to the DA, with Beaufort West the sole ANC-controlled municipality. The battle for the remaining 13 councils is under way.
On Wednesday night, DA provincial leader Theuns Botha confirmed that the party had come to an agreement with independent councillors in Langeberg, Witzenberg and Matsikama.
Earlier on Wednesday, the ANC announced it had entered into coalitions that would give it a hand in the running of Oudtshoorn, Cape Agulhas and Kannaland.
Kannaland is one of the province’s worst-performing municipalities, burdened with a R30 million debt and charges that former officials, including Donson, had looted municipal coffers over several years. 
Donson was convicted in 2008 on one count of indecent assault and seven of statutory rape, following an affair with a 15-year-old girl while he was mayor of Kannaland in 2004. 
The Western Cape High Court reduced his five-year jail term to a suspended period of imprisonment, correctional supervision, a R20 000 fine and a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders. 
In 2004, Donson, also known as DJ Fantastic, was forced to step down as Kannaland mayor by then Local Government MEC Marius Fransman after allegations that he had abused his mayoral fund to purchase equipment for his mobile disco.
The ANC was previously a minority partner in Kannaland, which has been plagued by allegations of corruption and maladministration, leaving the R30m debt, which Auditor-General Terrence Nombembe has refused to write off.
At the end of 2008, Donson, who had by then joined Badih Chabaan’s National People’s Party, was fired as a councillor, but he stood as an independent in a subsequent by-election and won his seat. He later rejoined Icosa.
At the end of 2009, he was again dismissed, this time by Local Government MEC Anton Bredell after a disciplinary inquiry found him guilty of interfering in the council’s administration by putting pressure on officials and misappropriating mayoral funds. 
Donson and several former officials at the Kannaland municipality are subjects of a police investigation into corruption at the municipality. 
Shortly after last week’s elections Botha publicly ruled out a coalition with Icosa or the Karoo Gemeenskaps Party, which is the largest party in Prince Albert but lacks enough councillors to form a majority.
Donson said local DA officials had sought to discuss an agreement soon after the elections but this had been abandoned because they didn’t have proper authority.
“We decided to go with the ANC before the elections and consulted with our supporters to look at which party would best help us achieve the goals set out in our manifesto,” said Donson in a joint media briefing with the ANC on Wednesday.
Asked about Kannaland’s financial state and its management, Donson said problems were exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure. He claimed the national government was not helping to fund infrastructure projects there.
On the issue of use of the mayoral fund, Donson said it was his prerogative to use it as he pleased and that he had not stolen any money. 
“I used the mayoral fund, like any other mayor in South Africa. They (police) should come for me if they want to. I’m the people’s choice,” he said.
At Wednesday’s briefing it was also announced that in Oudtshoorn the ANC would also govern with Icosa, while independent Dirk Jantjies agreed to side with four ANC councillors in the nine-seat Cape Agulhas municipality where he said he would become deputy mayor.
Jantjies said the decision to co-operate with the ANC was not difficult since he had roots in the party.
“I come from the ANC, the ANC is a party for the poor who wants to bring them out of poverty. Even before people went to the polls, they knew where I stood,” said Jantjies.
ANC provincial treasurer Fezile Calana, announcing the deal with Icosa and Jantjies, said the party still hoped to form a coalition with the ACDP in Swellendam.
“After the elections, and after the ANC pooled its numbers … it became necessary for us to talk to various political parties,” said Calana.
He said the agreement with Icosa and Jantjies would run until the next local government elections.
“There’s been no positions promised and there’s been no exchange of money.”
While the DA was still banking on a coalition with Cope in the Bitou municipality, in Cederberg – another hung council – the ANC was hoping to conclude a deal with the Pan Africanist Congress which would give it a one-seat majority on the 11-member council where it has five councillors.

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