DA bat­tle gets ugly

Party plagued by mem­ber­ship ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties Tsh­wane mayor slams be­hav­iour of ‘vul­tures’

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN NDABA

AFEROCIOUS bat­tle for the lead­er­ship of the DA in Gaut­eng has taken an ugly turn, with al­le­ga­tions of dirty tricks in the run-up to the elec­tive con­fer­ence next week­end.

Tsh­wane mayor Solly Msi­manga has com­plained to the party’s lead­er­ship ech­e­lons that Gaut­eng DA leader John Moodey has al­legedly been “cir­cled by a pack of vul­tures” in their bid to oust him in favour of party new­comer Ghaleb Cachalia.

The tus­sle has pit­ted Gaut­eng, which has be­come the party’s largest prov­ince, against some in the the DA’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus, where Cachalia is a mem­ber.

In a con­fi­den­tial email, which In­de­pen­dent Me­dia has seen, sent to DA Fed­eral Coun­cil chair­per­son James Selfe, Msi­manga launched a scathing at­tack on DA deputy chief whip Mike Wal­ters.

This fol­lowed a leak of a “damn­ing” Gaut­eng in­ter­nal mem­ber­ship audit re­port last Fri­day, which laid bare ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the party’s mem­ber­ship in the coun­try’s eco­nomic hub.

Wal­ters sent an email to Gaut­eng DA mem­bers in which he charged that the DA lead­er­ship un­der Moodey had been “un­able to ac­count for all mem­ber­ship in the prov­ince, and the au­di­tor is there­fore un­able to con­duct a proper and valid qual­i­fied audit”.

“Col­leagues, it is not a fab­ri­ca­tion or ex­ag­ger­a­tion of what ap­peared in the re­port. It is an in­dict­ment, to say the least, and an em­bar­rass­ment for a party that prides it­self on clean ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

This an­gered Msi­manga, who has slammed Wal­ters, say­ing his be­hav­iour was de­signed to cause an­i­mos­ity in the prov­ince.

Gaut­eng is the DA’s next tar­get to wrest con­trol from the ANC, with Msi­manga ear­marked to be the pre­mier.

Msi­manga asked Selfe to set up a fed­eral le­gal com­mis­sion of in­quiry to in­ves­ti­gate the be­hav­iour of Wal­ters and his al­leged role in leak­ing in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia.

“It is real harm­ful vul­ture be­hav­iour. In fact, some of the worst ‘of­fend­ers’ with the mem­ber­ship prob­lems we face are some of the main movers in this type of be­hav­iour,” Msi­manga said.

“The leak was done with­out pro­vid­ing con­text, with­out ex­plain­ing what the role of the provin­cial leader is in the ac­tual ad­min­is­tra­tion of the prov­ince, and with­out ref­er­ences to the staff short­ages we face,” he said.

Msi­manga added that the leak was also done “with­out ref­er­ence to the fact that the en­tire party faced sim­i­lar prob­lems af­ter our strenu- ous focus on the 2016 elec­tions, and with­out ref­er­ence to the changes in the au­dit­ing pro­cesses that the party faced for the first time”.

“It is clear it is a de­lib­er­ate leak to the me­dia us­ing in­ter­nal in­for­ma­tion for in­ter­nal cam­paign­ing – a prac­tice widely con­demned in the party and against which the party lead­er­ship has con­tin­u­ously ex­pressed it­self.”

Msi­manga said the leak fun­da­men­tally un­der­mined ef­forts of the prov­ince to fix mem­ber­ship prob­lems and that it was done over the week­end when the mem­bers were in a work­shop to deal with the chal­lenges.

He said sim­i­lar mem­ber­ship prob­lems had come to light ahead of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in Au­gust last year, but Moodey’s de­trac­tors were now al­legedly us­ing it for their self­ish in­ter­ests.

It would be “cowardly and wrong” as an out­go­ing chair­per­son to al­low “solid party sys­tems” to be “cyn­i­cally and ma­li­ciously un­der­mined”, Msi­manga said.

Con­tacted for com­ment, Wal­ters de­nied that he leaked in­ter­nal in­for­ma­tion to the me­dia but con­firmed he had sent an email to DA mem­bers.

“I wanted, as a se­nior mem­ber of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, to make our mem­bers aware of the sit­u­a­tion. I can­not di­vulge the con­tent of my email. It was con­fi­den­tial,” Wal­ters said.

He was adamant that the DA mem­bers had a right to know the state of the party.

Ac­cord­ing to in­sid­ers, other prov­inces, in­clud­ing the Western Cape and North­ern Cape, had sim­i­lar mem­ber­ship prob­lems.

“The North­ern Cape had to post­pone their con­fer­ence un­til next year to re­solve the mem­ber­ship is­sue,” one of the source said.

Last night, Cachalia con­firmed he was one of the re­cip­i­ents of Wal­ters’ email.

He, how­ever, de­nied al­le­ga­tions that the aim was to in­flu­ence DA mem­bers to sup­port him dur­ing the up­com­ing elec­tive con­fer­ence.

Msi­manga and Selfe could not be reached for com­ment.

This was de­signed to cre­ate an­i­mos­ity within the party in the prov­ince

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