Mystery donor funds Mazibuko’s campaign

2011-10-15 19:23

Democratic Alliance federal finance committee chairperson Dion George is investigating who is funding the party spokesperson Lindiwe Mazibuko’s media campaign to unseat parliamentary leader Athol Trollip, party insiders say.

“He (George) has told me that he is investigating where the money is coming from,” said a DA source close to George.

Another insider said he had heard about the alleged probe. “But this is not a federal decision,” he said.

But George vehemently denied he was conducting such a probe. “No complaint in this regard has been received. If a complaint is received, and it merits investigation, it will be investigated,” he said.

Mazibuko enlisted the services of Cape Town-based HWB Communications to help her with her campaign. The PR company was tasked with running her campaign for the DA parliamentary position. The elections will be held on October 27.

HWB chief executive Evelyn Holtzhausen refused to release the identity of the “private donor” footing Mazibuko’s campaign bill.

“A private donor, whose name we are not at liberty to disclose, has paid HWB a limited, fixed sum of money from personal funds to provide technical support for the campaign by hosting a media briefing and issuing press releases, drafted by campaign managers,” said Holtzhausen.

He would not divulge the fixed amount and said he had no idea what the total cost of the campaign would be.

But one of those involved in Mazibuko’s campaign put the cost at about R20 000 and said “we actually have more than we need”.

A member of Mazibuko’s campaign team also told City Press the reason they were using an external agency was that the party forbade the use of party resources for campaigning.

But, said the source, Trollip broke this rule when he announced his candidacy through official DA media channels.

The DA’s federal council, the party’s highest decision making body between congresses, met in Durban yesterday to discuss issues such as its plans for the 2014 general elections.

The party was on record saying it wanted to attract more black voters to its ranks. Mazibuko was seen as the DA’s face of transformation.

But one federal council member told City Press that some DA MPs were “turned off” by her media campaign for the top Parliament position.

He warned that the battle between Mazibuko and Trollip could have dire consequences for the party.

“It is damaging. We won’t recover from this. This could be our Polokwane moment. It is going to be messy,” he said.

In the most scathing attack on Mazibuko yet, veteran DA MP Dene Smuts, who supports Trollip, said there were far stronger black candidates than party leader Helen Zille’s protégé.

“This election is a contest between an untested sapling from the grow-your-own- timber nursery against a tree that has shown it does not bend. I hope any MPs who feel pressurised will remember that their vote is their secret and their salary is paid by the taxpayer, not the party,” she said.

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