CHRIS PAPPAS: “Bring it on!”; “This small mayor is making them terrified.”

This is the message Chris Pappas, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) candidate for Premier in KwaZulu-Natal, has for those who have accused him of nepotism. He speaks to BizNews after the Public Protector and the Speaker of the uMngeni municipality were both asked to investigate him. Pappas says the Speaker already investigated a couple of months ago – and stresses that he has nothing to hide. He also confirms that he has received “lots of threats”, but is full of courage. “When you’re a threat, and when there’s money involved, and when there’s power and positions involved, and you do not have law and order, and the criminal justice system is largely dysfunctional, and the value for life and moral engagement, has deteriorated to where it is, then you do have the situation that I’m sitting in at the moment.  But you also can’t let that deter you.” Pappas also talks about the latest polling data; lists his priorities after next year’s election; and details the actions taken over the last 23 months to turn his municipality into what DA leader John Steenhuisen described as a “a shining beacon on the hill while the rest of KZN lies in ruin.”. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 00:30 – Nepotism charges
  • 01:56 – What does recent polling data show and is that a realistic projection
  • 04:26 – What would your priorities be after next year election
  • 07:15 – What has been the secret to your success
  • 09:51 – Have you received any death threats/ do you live in fear
  • 12:16 – What do you have to say to the people who have been attacking you as of late
  • 14:58 – Conclusion

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Highlights from the interview

“Bring it on!”

This is the message Chris Pappas, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) candidate for Premier in KwaZulu-Natal, has for those who have accused him of nepotism.

He speaks to BizNews after the Public Protector and the Speaker of the uMngeni municipality were both asked to investigate him.

“They are welcome to investigate. I’ve got nothing to hide….The Speaker has actually already investigated a couple of months ago after receiving a complaint that was received via CoGTA (The Department of Cooperative Governance and the Department of Traditional Affairs). She sent through all the documents at that stage and usually, like CoGTA does, there was no response. So the story that they are raising and the issues that they are talking about have long been dealt with in our municipality….I’m waiting for the Public Protector. I still haven’t received any communication from them or him or her, but there’s nothing at the moment. But I’ve got nothing to hide.”

Pappas called the timing of the allegations “questionable”.  “A week after you get announced as Premier. And I think that’s just because I’m a threat. So I say, bring it on. I’ve been expecting things like this. And it’s good. It’s good that they are scared. It’s good that this small mayor, as they call me, is making them terrified.”

As for being in a hot seat in a province that’s synonymous with political killings, Pappas says: 

“I have received threats, no direct death threats so far, but lots of threats. You know, we’re going to deal with this, we’re going to deal with you, we’re coming to find you, we’re going to hurt you. You know, those I get…

“When you’re a threat, and when there’s money involved, and when there’s power and positions involved, and you do not have law and order, and the criminal justice system is largely dysfunctional, and the value for life and moral engagement has deteriorated to where it is, then you do have the situation that I’m sitting in at the moment.  But you also can’t let that deter you.”

Pappas says one of the key messages that he is going to be giving to people over the next seven months is to have courage. “Have courage. You need courage as a business to publicly stand up and say government is failing and I’m having to fire people and move and close down because of the ANC (African National Congress) government. And you have to say that as business and have the courage to say that. It takes courage to be a person living in a township where the ANC uses their power to intimidate people to stand up and say, I’m voting for change. And I can’t expect people out there to have courage if I don’t have it myself. And you have to deal with these things head on because if not now, when?”

Commenting on the latest polling data that gives 44% to the IFP-DA coalition and 46% to the EFF-ANC coalition, Pappas says: “So it’s neck on neck, it’s very close… So I’m confident…this province…is actually the political playground for 2024 elections…we drive the political narrative in the country….

“There are more municipalities in this province that are run by the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) and the DA than there are municipalities run by the ANC. The South African Local Government Association, SALGA, changed hands. It was in the hands of the ANC majority and now it’s in the hands of an IFP-DA majority. So all across the province, these changes are systematically taking place. And I think 2024 is going to be equally as exciting.”

Pappas’ priorities after next year’s election are getting provincial finances in check; undoing what is being “systematically destroyed” by cadre deployment; “real” service delivery; tourism to revitalise small towns that have “largely collapsed”; helping create jobs in rural areas where there are very few opportunities other than tourism and agriculture; as well as healthcare and education.

He also details the actions taken over the last 23 months to turn his municipality into what DA leader John Steenhuisen described as a “a shining beacon on the hill while the rest of KZN lies in ruin”.

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