City officials accused of blocking DA stall at Ekurhuleni Pride

The DA delegation at Ekurhuleni Pride

The City of Ekurhuleni has been accused of threatening to cancel its support for last week’s Ekurhuleni Pride if the DA was allowed a stall at the Kwa-Thema event.

The DA’s Rainbow Network (DARN) intended to have a stall at the 10th annual Pride, as it has done at numerous Prides around the country.

However, after paying for the stall, representatives were informed two days before Saturday’s event that this would not be allowed. According to DA City of Ekurhuleni Councillor, Tiaan Kotzé, who is also the Gauteng DARN Media Liaison, the organisers of Pride, the community group EPOC, informed DARN that the city – which provides the venue and other support for the Pride – was “threatening to pull out” as a sponsor.

This was reportedly because officials said that the event was meant to be a municipal event not a political one. Kotzé, however, said that the “DA condemns this act” and believes that “the City of Ekurhuleni should encourage such events rather than censoring participation.”

Ekurhuleni Pride organiser Ntsupe Mohapi confirmed to Mambaonline that EPOC had been told by city officials that “if we politicise the whole thing, the Ekurhuleni municipality cannot support or sponsor any political event.”

Mohapi added that the city, which is run by an ANC-led coalition government, did not specifically mention the DA but Wayne Helfrich, Gauteng DARN Chairperson, believes that the threat to withdraw was intended to target the DA. Kotzé also noted that a number of participants attended the Pride wearing ANC t-shirts. “They wouldn’t allow the DA but the ANC showed up,” he said.

Mohapi pointed out that her group does not itself have any problem “working with any political organisations or parties” and noted that LGBTI people belong to “all kinds of political parties.”

Kotzé, along with two other DA councillors, nevertheless attended the event wearing DARN t-shirts. He said there was a degree of tension at their presence, but this was diffused when the ward councillor introduced the DA group to the Pride participants as fellow councillors.

Mambaonline contacted Ekurhuleni City Spokesperson Themba Gadebe telephonically and via an email on Monday, in which we asked:

1) Did the city tell the Ekurhuleni Pride organisers that it would withdraw its support if political parties were present at the event, and if not, what was said?

2) Was this motivated by the DA planning to have a large presence at the event?

3) What is the city’s position on supporting events that include political parties? What is allowed and what is not allowed? Are there guidelines in this regard?

Despite confirming receipt of the email over the phone and that he would attend to it immediately, Mambaonline has not yet received a response from Gadebe.

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