City DA leaders jump ship

2019-10-25 15:07
ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli (right) welcomed former DA Msunduzi Municipality caucus whip Melika Singh to the ruling party.

ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli (right) welcomed former DA Msunduzi Municipality caucus whip Melika Singh to the ruling party.

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The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday gained from the DA’s unravelling as several DA members from Msunduzi joined the ruling party. 

Former DA Msunduzi Municipality caucus whip Melika Singh, DA Msunduzi ward 33 chairperson Rookshana Vally, DA Msunduzi activist Goolam Vally, former DA Provincial Executive Member Luyanda Msane and former DA KZN youth chairperson Fikani Khubisa, are among those who defected to the ANC on Thursday.

ANC provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli welcomed the new members at a press conference in Durban.

Another former DA councillor, from ward 33, Nkululeko Mkhize, who was not at the press briefing, has according to Ntuli, also defected to the ANC.

The departure of the DA members in Msunduzi happens as party leaders were working hard to stabilise the organisation following the resignation of its federal leader Mmusi Maimane, federal chairperson Athol Trollip and Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

DA parliamentary caucus chairperson Annelie Lotriet is now the interim leader of the party in Parliament after Maimane also resigned as an MP after losing the role of parliamentary leader, which has set in motion intensive lobbying among DA Members of Parliament, with the party’s former chief whip, John Steenhuisen, tipped as a possible replacement for Maimane.

Steenhuisen, who hails from KZN, was forced to vacate his chief whip position in the wake of Maimane’s resignation as the chief whip position was tied to the term of the party’s parliamentary leader.

According to sources within the DA caucus, several DA MPs have already approached Steenhuisen and requested him to make himself available for election as the new parliamentary leader.

In a radio interview on Radio 702 on Thursday, Steenhuisen confirmed that DA members have approached him.

Steenhuisen’s stepping down as chief whip on Thursday caused some confusion, with some believing that he was joining those DA leaders who have resigned from the party.

However, Lotriet said Steenhuisen had no choice but to step down in the wake of Maimane’s resignation.

“It is just because he is appointed by the parliamentary leader, and because Mr Maimane is no longer the parliamentary leader, John [Steenhuisen] automatically had to step down,” she said.

The misunderstanding also saw Steenhuisen taking to Twitter saying:

“Let me be clear: I have NOT resigned from the @Our_DA or Parliament.

“The leader of the party appoints the chief whip. With Mmusi’s resignation from Parliament my term as chief whip ends. I remain a committed and determined member of the party and cause,” Steenhuisen later explained.

A former DA leader in the KZN legislature, Steenhuisen has been a member of the National Assembly since 2011. He also served as DA eThekwini Municipality councillor.

Chairperson of the federal council Helen Zille said the party is aiming to have its next federal congress in April next year.

In a statement following Thursday’s meeting of the party’s federal executive (FedEx) via teleconference, Zille said: “The DA is in the business of ensuring that the democratic project is not derailed by either internal or external issues.

“We can waste no time in working for an inclusive, prosperous democracy. To this end, strong and stable leadership in the DA is essential.”

Zille remarked at Wednesday’s press conference where Maimane and Trollip announced their resignations: “This is a rather unusual situation.”

The party later elicited a legal opinion from its federal legal commission (FLC).

“The FedEx was convened [on Thursday] morning to study a legal opinion by the DA federal legal commission on the steps required to fill the leadership vacancies in a way that does not undermine the federal constitution and does not negatively affect the political operations of the DA,” read Zille’s statement.

“The FLC is empowered to, inter alia, interpret the federal constitution.” “In terms of the federal constitution, the federal leader is deputised by the federal chairperson, but the federal constitution is silent on the current situation where both positions have become vacant simultaneously.”

She said on the FLC’s advice, they would follow the following steps:

• The federal council (FedCo) will be convened as soon as practically possible to elect an interim federal leader and interim federal chairperson.

• A federal congress will be convened as soon as practically possible, with a provisional target of April 2020.

Lotriet said current deputy chief whip, Jacques Julius, would take over as interim chief whip. Julius’ position differs from that of Steenhuisen because the caucus elected him deputy chief whip but Steenhuisen was appointed by Maimane.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  da

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