His longevity as a politician is remarkable. His political survival skills may surpass his obvious intelligence and good sense of humour.
But “Who is the real Elrick van Aswegen?” has become an important question.
In a town that has, again, being divided by power struggle, he may be the Kingmaker when the 2016 Municipal Elections take place.
There’s irony in Van Aswegen’s history…
Internal politics found Knysna Community Forum (KCF), the party he belonged to, imploding in 2006. He quit as chairman only to watch new chairman Donald Kemoetie, and secretary Charl Botha cross the floor to the ANC.
The ANC made a coalition deal with the DA but soon flip-flopped on them to make a new coalition that sent the DA into the cold.
“Flip-Flopper: A person who suddenly makes a reversal
of his claimed belief, direction or policy.”
Van Aswegen then joined COPE, a new political party mostly comprised of the ANC’s disgruntled, political children.
The DA rallied, winning the 2011 elections. COPE won one seat, Van Aswegen becoming their representative.
For 4 and a half years, Elrick Van Aswegen mostly voted with the ANC as opposition. However, 6 months before the next election (which got delayed further), the DA radically replaced one of their own with Van Aswegen on the Mayoral Committee (MAYCO).
That move meant a massive pay increase.
That move suspiciously found Van Aswegen voting with the DA or abstaining from voting. His reason for the abstentions was that COPE had a deal with the DA in the Western Cape that where they disagreed, they must abstain. Considering him ignoring the COPE/DA deal for years, voting the opposite way, tends to make Van Aswegen look like a liar of convenience.
To his credit or discredit, his opposition may have been loud in Council Chambers but it lacked action. Words without action breeding result must surely be considered hollow.
He achieved a ludicrous stage this past month when he abstained from voting on the 2016/2017 municipal budget. Absurd because he is the S80 Chairman of the Finance Committee.
Yet, 2 years before, with regards the budget, he stated: “We will fight them [the DA] tooth and nail for the best interests of Knysna. We will carry on ’til midnight if we have to!”
With Knysna recently gaining a new ward and two councillor positions, the ANC stands a chance of winning the town back. Van Aswegen is the DA’s ace in the hole to stop that happening.
But flip-flopping is a dangerous game, breeding suspicion.
Elrick Van Aswegen will be under pressure from some to step back from the DA. The problem he faces is that if he does, was it done for his supporters or for himself?
“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
As an activist and blogger, my main criticism of Van Aswegen is that he doesn’t believe in talking to the media. How can a person who doesn’t believe in owning his beliefs and goals, enough to put them on record, be trusted?
That’s further dangerous in that he is part of a seemingly private club, a Council that doesn’t believe in transparency and has allowed the DA to cover-up issues of great public interest.
I want to like Van Aswegen. I state that with all sincerity. He has the potential to make a real contribution to Council, more than most. He just needs to shine a light on who he is and what he stands for… and be willing to demonstrate that with action.