DA KZN LEADER FACES THE AXE
Plans are afoot to oust Zwakele Mncwango amid allegations of a vendetta against party’s chief whip
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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ON THE WARPATH DA chief whip John Steenhuisen