Expelled MP awaits appeal date from DA commission
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.