DURBAN - VISVIN Reddy, the leader of African Democratic Change (Adec), says he will draw on his long history of community activism to make sure that the eThekwini Municipality delivers on the promise of a better life for the city’s residents.
Reddy, who is a survivor in politics, and other smaller parties played a key role in the council meeting on Wednesday and ensured that eThekwini remained under the control of the ANC.
The ANC was on the verge of losing control of the municipality to the DA but it struck an 11th-hour deal with the smaller opposition parties that saw the leader of Abantu Batho Congress Philani Mavundla being elected as the deputy mayor of eThekwini. Mavundla was nominated by the smaller parties voting in a block as the deputy mayor to represent them in the executive.
In an interview with The Mercury, Reddy, who was sworn in this week as a PR councillor in the municipality, said he was surprised that the credit was going elsewhere for the ANC win. He was speaking following reports that credited suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule and former Health minister Zweli Mkhize for saving the ANC in eThekwini.
“That is not true that they led those negotiations, let me tell you. I was deeply involved in those negotiations, it was myself and nine councillors from the smaller parties that made that happen,” said Reddy.
For Reddy to find common ground with the ANC would not have been difficult as he is a former member of the party. He has also been a member of the DA and the Minority Front.
“I was in the ANC for a long time and led some of its structures in the Phoenix area. I left because, like many other members, I had gotten tired of the infighting.”
Prior to that, he had been a member of the DA and deployed to Parliament, but he alleged that widespread racism in the party left him with no choice but to leave.
For the past 10 years, he said he has been exclusively involved with community activism.
In the lead up to the formation of Adec, Reddy was involved in setting up community organisations, one of them was People Against the Petrol Price Increase (Pappi).
“This was one of my most successful organisations, there were 300 000 followers of this organisation, it led to community members actually assessing and talking about the increasing price of petrol instead of just seeing the statistics and that the price of petrol was going to increase.”
Reddy said through this organisation, he was able to expose the fact that South African motorists were being overcharged for petrol.
He said the petrol price increase was a serious issue and he would still pursue the work of this organisation.
“The government is overtaxing residents for fuel, we are paying over 55% in taxes and levies, the government has the power to reduce the price of petrol in order to cushion the residents,” he said.
Other community initiatives Reddy has led include an organisation that was formed to fight against load shedding and he led communities marching against tariff increases implemented by eThekwini.
He said the experience gained through years of activism will be brought to the eThekwini council.
“The question of accountability is key, Durban has gone from bad to worse, our politicians are spending time focusing on peripheral issues, on irrelevant things rather than key issues, people (ratepayers) are not getting value for their money.
“We (city) are spending money on the “nice to have” things. We believe the focus should be on ratepayers, they need to get value for their money and at the moment they are being overcharged for water,” he said.
He said there must be changes in how the municipality operated.