Race row rocks Western Cape DA

2017-02-19 06:00
Patricia de Lille

Patricia de Lille

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Cape Town - A racial storm has erupted in the DA in the Western Cape as the party prepares to elect an acting provincial leader next weekend.

Interim leader Bonginkosi Madikizela told City Press that DA members campaigning for the position were using his race against him.

Madikizela is one of five candidates who have been nominated to fill the position left vacant by Patricia de Lille last month, albeit still on an acting basis. The DA will be electing the acting leader in Worcester on Saturday.

“There are people running around saying the party is not ready to be led by a black person because, in the Western Cape, coloured people are the majority,” Madikizela told City Press on Saturday.

“I find that hypocritical because if you look at North West, for example, 91% of the people are black, but our DA leader there is Joe McGluwa, who is a coloured person.

"In Limpopo, 93% of the people are black, but our leader there is Jacques Smalle, who is white. And in the Eastern Cape, the leader is Athol Trollip.”

Madikizela said the irony was that those using the race card to campaign against him were “not even white people”.

“They are people with a narrow agenda who are using this to campaign for their personal interests and not for the broader interests of the party.”

He warned that race-based politics would kill the party and had been a weakness in many other parties.

Former DA leader Helen Zille told City Press that she was aware of race-based campaigning in the party.

“I have always taken a very strong stand against the race card being used in the DA and I will continue doing so. I am afraid that every single time there is an advantage in South Africa for someone to play the race card, they play the race card. I am tired of it.”

According to DA sources, the real race for leadership is between Madikizela and Shaun August, a former Independent Democrats (ID) member, who is now the regional chairperson of the DA in the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, as well as the party’s chief whip in the City of Cape Town council.

Last month, August pleaded guilty and entered into a plea bargain with the party’s federal legal commission for failing to follow proper procurement processes with another DA councillor in sourcing T-shirts for the party’s campaign ahead of last year’s local government elections.

Sources have claimed that senior DA leaders, including Zille, who allegedly supports Madikizela, are using the T-shirt scandal against August in the campaign.

While Madikizela stated that he was not the right person to talk about August because they are contesting each other, he confirmed some people were unhappy about his rival.

He said that, while the party had systems in place, it was true that there was unhappiness.

“In fact, many people are accusing us of being inconsistent because when a person is found guilty or enters a plea bargain, there is a precedence set that they are barred from standing for public office, which has not been the case with Shaun.”

August said the T-shirt saga was being used against him.

“If I was corrupt, the DA would have gotten rid of me a long time ago. They are dragging up the T-shirt thing to discredit me because I had the balls to stand for the election,” he added.

August said he was not aware of any race-based campaign, adding that, “in our campaign, we don’t talk about race”.

Zille denied speaking against August and would not confirm support for Madikizela.

“I don’t get involved in these things upfront and publicly. I don’t want to do it,” she said.

The other candidates are Cape Town councillor Arlene Adams, Lennit Max and Peter Langeveld.

Madikizela is Western Cape MEC for human settlements who has worked with Zille since her days as the mayor of Cape Town, while August is a former ID member who is known to be close to De Lille.

Read more on:    da  |  bonginkosi madikizela  |  patricia de lille  |  cape town  |  politics  |  racism

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