DA KZN LEADER FACES THE AXE

Plans are afoot to oust Zwakele Mncwango amid al­le­ga­tions of a vendetta against party’s chief whip

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S’THEMBILE CELE

The DA’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus has dis­cussed a pro­posal to have its leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Zwakele Mncwango, re­moved via a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence.

While that struc­ture has no au­thor­ity to carry out the de­ci­sion, City Press un­der­stands that it was raised when the cau­cus met this week.

Chief whip of the cau­cus John Steen­huisen, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, has al­legedly been com­plain­ing to some in the party that Mncwango has a vendetta against him.

This fol­lows a se­ries of al­le­ga­tions against Steen­huisen re­lated to his fi­nan­cial good stand­ing, as well as the rev­e­la­tion that he does not have a post­grad­u­ate qual­i­fi­ca­tion, which left him red-faced this week.

Steen­huisen de­clined to com­ment on the dis­cus­sion at cau­cus this week, say­ing he did not com­ment on cau­cus mat­ters.

Mncwango told City Press that he could not ac­count for what was dis­cussed at cau­cus as he is not part of the Na­tional Assem­bly.

“I do not know ex­actly what has hap­pened there. I have no is­sue with him. He is one of the MPs com­ing from KwaZulu-Natal and I have great re­spect for him,” Mncwango said of Steen­huisen.

Na­tional spokesper­son Solly Malatsi said it would be im­proper for him to com­ment on meet­ings that were closed to “al­low for ro­bust de­bates to take place”.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions via email this week, Steen­huisen said it was clear that there was a cam­paign against him, but he did not know what the rea­son for the cam­paign was.

“I have no idea, but what­ever it is, it is short-sighted and silly. The full fo­cus of our en­er­gies should be on get­ting the DA into gov­ern­ment in as many places as pos­si­ble so that we can bring hope and change to the coun­try. In­di­vid­u­als who fo­cus on in­ter­nal bat­tles dis­tract from the greater project.”

The chief whip also rub­bished claims that he was not up to date with his tithes in the party. Those who are not in good fi­nan­cial stand­ing with the party are served with let­ters of de­mand and asked to va­cate their po­si­tions af­ter a num­ber of let­ters have been sent.

“Yes, I am in good stand­ing with my tithes. I was re­cently er­ro­neously served with a let­ter of de­mand from the prov­ince.

“I wrote to the pro­vin­cial fi­nance chair­per­son on Septem­ber 25 2018, point­ing out that the mis­take was on their side as elec­tronic pay­ments that I had ef­fected had not been timeously re­flected against my ac­count.

“On Novem­ber 27, I re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence that the pro­vin­cial fi­nance com­mit­tee had con­sid­ered the mat­ter and, tak­ing into ac­count the proof of pay­ments pro­vided, the let­ter was with­drawn.

“I was af­forded an apol­ogy both for the length of time it had taken to deal with my com­plaint and the ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror.”

Steen­huisen also de­nied that he had, at any stage, been given spe­cial con­do­na­tion from higher struc­tures in the party for fail­ing to pay his tithes.

The DA’s fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive will meet next week, and is likely to give con­sid­er­a­tion to pleas from a num­ber of peo­ple look­ing to re­turn to their po­si­tions as pub­lic rep­re­sen­ta­tives or be con­sid­ered for po­si­tions, de­spite not be­ing in good stand­ing.

When asked if he had a de­sire to re­turn to Par­lia­ment as chief whip next year, Steen­huisen said that while he loved the job, it was a dif­fi­cult one. “I have not de­cided,” he said.

“The job is ex­cep­tion­ally de­mand­ing and re­quires ex­tremely long hours, at­ten­tion to de­tail and very de­tailed plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of strate­gies. But I love it and I be­lieve that I have been ex­tremely ef­fec­tive and have added value in the role.

“It does, how­ever, come with a down­side as it crowds out the op­por­tu­nity to spend time with fam­ily, take leave and, of course, fur­ther one’s stud­ies!”

The party leader said he had never sought any spe­cial treat­ment and that the de­ci­sion of whether or not he would re­turn as chief whip lay squarely with party leader Mmusi Maimane.

“There will be no ‘in­ter­ven­tion of se­nior lead­ers’. I have sub­jected my­self to the ex­act same process that ev­ery other can­di­date will be sub­jected to, and will abide by the out­come of that process, what­ever it may be.

“In the DA, the chief whip po­si­tion is not some­thing that one stands for, but rather, it is an ap­point­ment made by the leader of the par­lia­men­tary party.

“The po­si­tion, as well as the length of ser­vice of the chief whip, is de­ter­mined en­tirely at the dis­cre­tion of the leader. I will re­turn to the Na­tional Assem­bly as a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. If the leader chooses to select me for an­other term as chief whip, that will be en­tirely up to him.”

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PHOTO: ADRIAN DE KOCK

ON THE WARPATH DA chief whip John Steen­huisen

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