Sunday World

Mncwango joins DA black leadership blaxit

‘Freedom of speech stifled in party’

- By Sandile Motha sandile@sundayworl­

When former Kwazulu-natal Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Zwakele Mncwango decided not to stand for re-election and instead was deployed to the lessimport­ant role of party chief whip in the provincial legislatur­e, the writing was on the wall that he was heading for the exit.

Mncwango, who yesterday resigned his membership of the DA, had ruffled many feathers within the blue party, challengin­g the status quo.

He often butted heads with the so-called old guard of the party, including its head honcho, Helen Zille, over what appeared to be the systematic silencing of black voices inside the party.

This week, Mncwango officially resigned from his legislatur­e position and said while he had not rescinded his membership, the break will give him time to reflect on his future.

Speaking to Sunday World, Mncwango said the DA’S ideologica­l shift had drained him emotionall­y, saying he was driven to the edge. “I realised that what was happening in the organisati­on resembled a party that was no longer interested in inspiring change in the country.

“There was no space to engage robustly on pertinent issues that affected the majority. An atmosphere of fear was created where people couldn’t speak out freely,” Mncwango said.

He said the straw that broke the camel’s back was the DA’S wishy-washy approach on the land question and its approach on policies aimed at addressing past injustices. This includes the unceremoni­ous exiting of other key black leaders to which, he said, the party took a business-as-usual approach.

“When I joined the party, it was their values of creating an equal society and one South Africa not polarised by race that attracted me. I feel that these ideals have been abandoned. The DA is at the crossroads and there’s a growing tendency to stifle freedom of speech and opinion inside the party.

“Mmusi (Maimane) and other leaders left the party, and it had a negative impact on elections but you could see that the leadership was not bothered,” he said.

Mncwango, 43, joins an exodus of other black leaders who have left the party, citing a toxic environmen­t. It began with the exiting of now Actionsa leader and former city of Johannesbu­rg mayor Herman Mashaba, who said he was driven out of the party by a strong cabal that was against his pro-poor policies. He was followed shortly by Maimane. He too said the DA was no longer the party he joined and loved.

Other leaders who followed suit included Phumzile van Damme, former deputy federal chairperso­n Makashule Gana, former KZN MPL Mbali Ntuli and Bongani Baloyi, the former mayor of Midvaal.

Recapping on his future, Mncwango said he will not be lost to politics.

“I have received several offers from the private sector and NGOS, but I believe my passion is in politics.

 ?? ?? Former Kwazulu-natal DA leader Zwakele Mncwango
Former Kwazulu-natal DA leader Zwakele Mncwango

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