Maimane on the ropes after Kohler Barnard sacking

2015-11-01 15:38
Dianne Kohler Barnard (Netwerk24)

Dianne Kohler Barnard (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - DA leader Mmusi Maimane has a possible palace revolution on his hands.

Furious party members fired questions at him during Saturday’s meeting of the DA’s federal council after the party’s federal executive gave Dianne Kohler Barnard the boot.

They wanted Maimane to explain why the recommendations of the party’s federal legal commission were not accepted.

"How is it that the DA’s own internal disciplinary board’s recommendations can be overturned by a political decision?" a source with insight into Saturday’s federal council meeting told City Press’s sister newspaper, Rapport.

Kohler Barnard earlier pleaded guilty to misconduct, bringing the party into disrepute and contravening the party’s social media policy after sharing a Facebook post saying that the country was in a better state under the leadership of apartheid strongman PW Botha.

The DA’s legal commission’s recommendations included that Kohler Barnard pay a fine, attend a course on the use of social media, and that she be demoted as chief spokesperson on police to the position of deputy spokesperson of public works.

Kohler Barnard has already said she will appeal the federal executive’s decision. She declined to comment further on Saturday morning.

If her appeal fails, it will mean the end of her 11-year career as a politician and a DA MP.

The DA’s federal executive consists of Maimane as party leader, Helen Zille in her capacity as former national leader, the party’s nine provincial leaders, federal chairperson Athol Trollip, three deputy federal chairpersons and members of the federal council.

Zille told Rapport on Saturday that she had no insight into what had happened at Friday night’s meeting because she was in Mexico.

There is increasing pressure on Maimane to show that the DA is rooting out racism in its ranks. Media commentators said if Maimane did not act now, his inspiring speeches would prove meaningless.

Sources said it wasn’t Maimane’s doing that Kohler Barnard was kicked out.

"Mmusi delivered a plea that Dianne should stay in the party," said one.

He and DA chief whip John Steenhuisen failed to convince the other federal executive members.

"I can imagine Mmusi must be bitterly upset about it and wishes it all away," said another party source.

Maimane declined to comment yesterday and referred questions to DA national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme. She said she was not permitted to comment on internal issues.

Trollip also rejected requests for comment and insisted that the DA follow the correct processes.

Meanwhile, rumours abound that Kohler Barnard’s political career has been destroyed thanks to factional battles in the DA’s party structures in KwaZulu-Natal. Before the Facebook drama, she was the party’s deputy leader there.

Rapport was told: "KZN is a snake pit. We know who took the screen grab of the offending Facebook post and sent it to the ANC." The DA is also busy with an investigation to find and discipline those involved.

A DA MP who asked to remain anonymous said many people were extremely shocked over the decision to withdraw Kohler Barnard’s party membership. "They want to make an example of her. This is a political execution."

A sympathiser said: "I can understand that she lost her position as police spokesperson, but that her membership was terminated? The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

"There is something very wrong here. What sort of precedent is being created here?

"If someone wants to get rid of me, they can get on to my Twitter timeline and get something from that which is inappropriate."

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  diane kohler barnard

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