8 January 2016

South Africa: From Headboy to Provincial ANC Head Honcho - Who Is Marius Fransman?

Western Cape ANC leader Marius Llewellyn Fransman is facing a sexual harassment complaint laid against him in Rustenberg.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa confirmed they had been in touch with him for an explanation, but added that the law must take its course.

Fransman, who is married with two kids, is no stranger to controversy. He is often embroiled in spats with the DA in the province, as the battle for votes continues.

In 2014, the Democratic Alliance took him and other individuals to court after accusing him of canvassing for votes with food parcels paid for by the state. Fransman denied any foul play.

The Western Cape High Court later dismissed the opposition party's application, according to the Mail & Guardian.

Last year, the Sunday Times reported that Fransman had tried to buy support for the ruling party by promising large amounts of cash to coloured voters in the province.

Humble beginnings

The newspaper reported that this alleged attempt apparently backfired because the intended beneficiaries, the Cape Minstrel troupes, wanted him to make good on a promise of cash amounts up to R1m.

Shooting down the allegations as false, the ANC in the Western Cape said at the time that the party never offered cash in exchange for votes.

Fransman has humble beginnings. He grew up in the working class neighbourhood of Blackheath on the Cape Flats in Cape Town. He also worked as a teacher before making politics his full-time career.

He dabbled with leadership from an early age and was a student representative council chair in high school.

He was headboy at Bishop Lavis Secondary School and completed matric in 1987.

Armed with a tertiary qualification in education from the University of the Western Cape in 1991, he started off his teaching career in Vredendal on the West Coast.

He was mayor of the Vredendal Municipal Council from 1995 to 1998.

Fransman also advocated for the rights of farm dwellers as a project manager at the Surplus People's Project.

Politically, he started off as a regional organiser for the ANC. He served as the party's Western Cape deputy secretary from 1997 to 2004.

Between 2002 and 2009, he was a Western Cape MEC in various portfolios such as social services, local government and housing, transport and public works, and lastly health.

Fransman became a member of Parliament in 2009 and chaired the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training.

Another blow to Western Cape leadership

A year later, President Jacob Zuma appointed him as the deputy minister of international relations and co-operation. He held the position until 2014, balancing his national role with that of provincial party leader.

The DA has retained the province since it unseated the ANC in 2009. Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs admitted to News24 last year that there had been a "big disconnect" between the party and its constituencies.

Jacobs said they sometimes took their constituency for granted, were sometimes self-serving and had focused at times on internal squabbles. He asked voters to give the party another chance.

The ANC in the Western Cape planned to meet on Saturday to discuss the allegations made against Fransman.

Spokesperson Yonela Diko said the party did not have any details about the incident for now. The party would release a full statement following a meeting of officials.

This is another blow for the leadership in the Western Cape.

Last month, Jacobs was placed on precautionary suspension after being accused of beating up a colleague for failing to write a report on the organisation.

A disciplinary process is still underway to determine his fate.

* Profile compiled with information from Who's Who SA, People's Assembly, the department of international relations and co-operation, and newspaper articles.

Source: News24

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