Zille plans PMB visit

2019-11-01 15:00
Hellen Zille.

Hellen Zille.

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Newly-elected DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille will visit the party’s Msunduzi constituency following allegations of racism levelled against the organisation’s Pietermaritzburg leadership.

According to DA parliamentary leader John Steenhuisen, Zille’s visit will form part of a nationwide tour aimed at addressing problems raised by party activists.

Zille’s planned visit follows the departure of several DA Msunduzi councillors, including Melika Singh, who cited racism within the DA Msunduzi leadership as a reason for her departure.

Singh, along with several DA Msunduzi councillors who resigned from the party, has since joined the ANC.

Steenhuisen visited Msunduzi on Tuesday to drum up support for the DA ahead of next week’s ward 33 by-election.

Asked how the DA national leadership would respond to the ill-treatment claims made against the party’s leadership in Msunduzi, Steenhuisen said the DA’s federal council adopted a hard stance on racism and other forms of abuse during its recent meeting in Johannesburg. “As a result the new federal council chairperson will soon be embarking on a national tour to hear people’s concerns,” he said.

The DA national leadership’s decision to intervene in Msunduzi and other DA structures came after a review panel comprising former leader Tony Leon, former party chief strategist Ryan Coetzee and Capitec Bank founder Michiel le Roux had recommended that there should be a cultural change within the party.

In its report, the panel also blamed indecision, uncertainty around the race question and vague policies on how the DA will be addressing its electoral decline for the number of challenges currently faced by the party.

Steenhuisen said the DA would be implementing the panel’s recommendations, which were presented at the very same federal council meeting that elected Zille.

“We will make sure that DA activists are treated with respect and dignity. What the report also tells us is that as DA activists we will have to work much harder to win back public trust,” Steenhuisen said.

However, Steenhuisen was quick to deny that complaints levelled against certain DA leaders, coupled with disagreements on the direction the party was supposed take, were a sign that the organisation was divided.

The rumblings in the DA, Steenhuisen said, should be attributed to the party’s liberal democratic values allowing free speech. “It’s a healthy clash of ideas.

“However, unlike in the ANC, we don’t have a situation where people actively work against each other,” he said.

Steenhuisen, who was elected the DA parliamentary leader following last week’s resignation of the party’s federal leader, Mmusi Maimane, has made himself available for election as DA federal leader.

As DA parliamentary leader, Maimane developed a reputation for launching stinging attacks on the ANC leadership, particularly President Cyril Ramaphosa.

While Steenhuisen will continue with the programme to hold government leaders to account, the DA’ s new parliamentary leader said going forward, the role of the official opposition would also include the development of alternative policies. “People out there want to know how the DA will be doing things differently,” he said.

The DA is yet to release dates for Zille’s nationwide tour.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  hellen zille

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