Expelled MP awaits ap­peal date from DA com­mis­sion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - CRAIG DODDS

EXPELLED DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard may have to wait un­til next year be­fore her ap­peal against loss of mem­ber­ship is heard.

The sur­prise de­ci­sion by the party’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive to over­turn the plea- bar­gain agree­ment Kohler Barnard struck with the dis­ci­plinary panel of the DA’s fed­eral le­gal com­mis­sion, ter­mi­nat­ing her mem­ber­ship in place of her un­der­tak­ing to pay a fine, re­sign from the party’s com­mit­tees and un­dergo so­cial me­dia train­ing, has caused con­ster­na­tion in the ranks.

Chair­woman of the party’s fed­eral le­gal com­mis­sion, Glyn­nis Breyten­bach, said yes­ter­day the fact that Par­lia­ment is to rise for the end-of-year con­stituency pe­riod and re­cess in two weeks would make it dif­fi­cult to hear the ap­peal be­fore the end of the year.

While this leaves the MP un­cer­tain of her fu­ture, it also means she re­tains her seat un­til the mat­ter, which may end up in court, is fi­nalised.

Re­fer­ring to re­ported ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the process that led to her ex­pul­sion, in­clud­ing that she wasn’t given an op­por­tu­nity to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions in mit­i­ga­tion of the sen­tence im­posed, that the guilty find­ing had been the re­sult of the plea bar­gain and that new ev­i­dence had been brought against her, Breyten­bach said the ap­peal panel would look into th­ese mat­ters if it could.

“If ei­ther party feels it was a ma­te­rial ir­reg­u­lar­ity they’d have to go to a High Court on re­view,” she said.

The fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive will have to de­fend its de­ci­sion in the ap­peal process, which could leave the party with egg on its face if it’s found the ex­pul­sion was ir­reg­u­lar.

She pleaded guilty to charges of mis­con­duct, bring­ing the party into dis­re­pute and not abid­ing by its so­cial me­dia pol­icy af­ter shar­ing a Face­book post call­ing for the re­turn of apartheid-era pres­i­dent PW Botha.

She re­moved the post on the party’s in­struc­tion, but it later resur­faced, set­ting off ac­cu­sa­tions the DA had yet to deal with racism in its ranks.

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