Kwankwa ‘still has a role to play’ in UDM
Hard-working United Democratic Movement (UDM) MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa has spoken of his pain after he lost the deputy presidency at the party’s elective congress on December 14, despite drafting the UDM’s local government elections manifesto.
Kwankwa was pipped to the post by former Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Khanyisile Litchfield-Tshabalala, who joined the UDM six months ago.
“I do not think anyone understands the extent of pain and heartache that I feel in my heart right now,” a disappointed Kwankwa told City Press this week.
“No one understands because I worked really hard for more than half a decade to build the party. “After all that hard work and sacrifice, it should be understandable that I would be hurting, but I think I still have a role to play in the UDM and age is still on my side,” he added.
Kwankwa (35) said that he remained a loyal and committed member of the UDM and that he would return to Parliament in 2016 to continue his work as its chief whip.
A longstanding member of the UDM, Kwankwa was seen as a possible successor to party leader General Bantu Holomisa. Eyebrows were raised within the party because Litchfield-Tshabalala, who was recruited by MP Mncedisi Filtane, contested and won such a senior position within a few months after joining the party.
Litchfield-Tshabalala’s fiery and impressive oratory skills put her in the spotlight while she was an EFF MP in Parliament between May 2014 and her expulsion in April this year.
The party expelled her and two other members, Mpho Ramakatsa and Andile Mngxitama, for failing to attend Parliament and for speaking to the media after being suspended.
Litchfield-Tshabalala, who was the first woman to be promoted to the rank of admiral in the South African navy, did not respond to City Press’ requests for an interview this week, but senior UDM leaders expressed their joy at her rise in the party.
Holomisa conceded that Litchfield-Tshabalala’s rise was sudden, adding that there was intensive lobbying for positions in the party.
“Yes, one would not have expected, within a period of six months [since joining the party] that she would have sprung to leadership, but you must remember Litchfield-Tshabalala is not new to politics.
“People know her and remember it was she who started the #PayBackTheMoney chant in Parliament,” said Holomisa.
He said Kwankwa would remain the party’s chief whip in Parliament and continue “knocking sense into that madness”.
Filtane, who is also the UDM’s newly elected deputy chairperson, said following her appointment as the party organiser, Litchfield-Tshabalala worked hard in launching UDM branches and resuscitating those that were dying.
“She also took time to go to the Eastern Cape, which is the biggest UDM base, and worked hard lobbying for us there.”