Ntuli charge could put Maimane against Selfe

2017-05-21 05:51
Mbali Ntuli, the federal chair of the DA Youth. (Herman Verwey, City Press)

Mbali Ntuli, the federal chair of the DA Youth. (Herman Verwey, City Press)

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Johannesburg - A disciplinary hearing against former DA Youth leader Mbali Ntuli could cause a deep split in the DA as the party’s two top officials, Mmusi Maimane and James Selfe, will likely testify on opposite sides.

DA leaders believe that politically motivated charges against Ntuli will do irreparable harm to the party.

City Press last week broke the news that Ntuli had been charged for allegedly liking a Facebook comment that implied that the former party leader and current premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille, was racist.

Social media policy

Despite a recommendation by the DA’s federal legal commission that Ntuli should not be charged, and that a not-guilty verdict would in fact harm the party, the party’s executive disregarded the recommendation and charged her anyway.

The author of the report that recommended Ntuli not be charged, Alan McLoughlin, told City Press that they were hoping that Selfe, who is the chairperson of the federal executive, would testify in the hearing set down for Thursday and Friday.

McLoughlin said Selfe’s presence would depend on his availability. Selfe would testify in his capacity as chairperson where he would be giving clarity on the Constitution that Ntuli is said to have violated, along with the party’s social media policy.

Selfe has repeatedly defended the decision to charge Ntuli, saying that it was for consistency sake.

Party leader Maimane said that he would be willing to testify in favour of Ntuli.

With the prospect of Selfe and Maimane taking opposing sides at the hearing, party members are concerned that the two heads of the party contradicting each other will send the wrong message to voters and potential voters.

“It is a mess and it is all because of Helen, it is all for Helen,” said one provincial leader.

Stand for deputy leader

The leader said that they believed that the charges were politically motivated and stemmed from a longstanding battle between Ntuli and Zille.

“It is quite preposterous when you think about it. This is all about Helen having one up on Mbali. They are willing to sink the party for Helen, who is on her way out anyway. It is likely that the end result will be that Ntuli will be forbidden from contesting for positions in the party. Remember, the KwaZulu-Natal conference is happening later this year and Mbali will probably stand for deputy leader,” another insider said.

Meanwhile, allegations have also been made that acting Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela – who laid the complaint against Ntuli – did so in order to secure support for himself in his bid to become leader of the province.

Two insiders told City Press that he had been guaranteed the “conservative vote” if he could prove that he had “consistency” in racial matters.

It is alleged that Madikizela made this admission to some members in February this year at a lunch in Cape Town when the party’s federal council was meeting.

Initial complaint

“Madikizela explicitly told us that he had been requested by members of the federal leadership to make the complaint in order to win the conservative vote. They wanted assurance that he would have consistency in dealing with racial matters after he was so outspoken in the [Dianne] Kohler Barnard case. Nobody was willing to charge Mbali until he came along. The focus is on the KwaZulu-Natal congress and ensuring that she does not get any position,” said someone who was present at the lunch.

Madikizela on Saturday denied this, saying, “it is a blatant lie”. He confirmed his attendance at that lunch, but said that he had no idea where the claims were coming from as he never said such a thing.

It is also alleged that the initial complaint brought before the federal legal commission had no complainant. Later, the complainant apparently became the federal executive and then, finally, Madikizela’s name appeared.

When asked about this, as well as whether he would testify on Friday, Selfe said that the issue was “complicated” and that he would explain via email.  He did not respond to a text message on Saturday and his phone rang unanswered.

McLoughlin said that to his knowledge Madikizela was the only complainant.

Read more on:    da  |  mmusi maimane  |  mbali ntuli  |  james selfe  |  johannesburg

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