DA councillor quits to join Patriotic Alliance in the Free State

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Former DA councillor John de Bruin with Rey Van Der Ross, PA leader in Free State. Photo Supplied

Bloemfontein ward councillor John de Bruin quit the DA this week, mirroring the recent resignations of seven councillors in Cape Town in support of former mayor Patricia de Lille. However, he says he hasn’t quit because of the De Lille saga, though he can relate to it.

De Bruin resigned on Monday to join the Patriotic Alliance (PA) in the lead-up to next year’s general elections. He told The Citizen the PA had offered to make him a legislature candidate in the Free State.

He will therefore not personally be contesting the by-election that will now inevitably be called in Ward 47 in Heidedal following his resignation.

The DA won this ward for the first time in 2016 after it had been held by the ANC since the dawn of democracy.

De Bruin said he had achieved this feat with the DA through working hard and having a strong relationship with the local community after running businesses in the building industry in the Free State capital. This had endeared him to the electorate despite him having grown up in Vryburg.

His mother’s aunt, he said, is the ANC stalwart Sophie de Bruyn, now 80. She is the last living leader of the 1956 Women’s March.

John de Bruyn started his political career as a canvasser for the Congress of the People before joining the DA nearly three years ago.

He said he no longer felt comfortable in the DA as it “is a white party that defends white people’s interests. They have a baasskap mentality. The leadership of the DA [in the Free State] is basically just white and black, with too few white people,” he alleged of his experience in the province.

“After people voted for the DA here in this ward, neither Patricia Kopane [the DA’s Free State premier candidate] nor [DA leader] Mmusi Maimane came to thank us. Coloured voters are just taken for granted in the DA.

“De Lille sits with the same problem there [in Cape Town]. White people sit on their heads.

“I joined Patriotic Alliance because I could see they care for their people.”

He plans to support and canvass for whichever candidate the PA puts forward to replace him in the by-election and believes the DA is likely to lose the ward.

Called for comment, PA president Gayton McKenzie said: “No one is getting 50% in the coming election. Small parties like ours will play a massive role.

“Coloured people gave the DA a chance to govern. That mandate is being withdrawn faster than you can say ‘coalition’.”

According to a new survey, it has been estimated the DA’s support base may have fallen by half.

If elections were to take place tomorrow, the DA and EFF would tie for second place with 11% each‚ according to a survey report by Afrobarometer. The DA took 22% and the EFF 6% of the vote in 2014.

Afrobarometer’s team in South Africa was led by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Plus 94 Research. They interviewed 1‚800 adults in a representative survey in August and September this year.

Charles Cilliers / The Citizen