DA row over election of second deputy federal council chair

MMusi Maimane (Beeld)
MMusi Maimane (Beeld)

A new row has hit the Democratic Alliance – this time it relates to the election of Natasha Mazzone as the second deputy chairperson of the party's federal council.

Members have accused the party of using "back door" tactics to elect her.

The party has announced that Mazzone would take up the post on Friday, under long-serving federal council chairperson James Selfe.

But DA MPL in Gauteng Khume Ramulifho has accused the party of overturning a congress decision that the position be filled at its federal council sitting in June.

At the congress on April 7, Ramulifho objected to the filling of the position and argued that the vote for the position happened before the congress had adopted the proposal for a second deputy chairperson.

Voting for new leaders was done the Sunday morning, April 8, when congress had not yet adopted that the constitution be amended to make way for a second deputy.

It was expected that the federal council, which is the second-highest decision-making body after the congress, would decide who would occupy the position, either through a vote or a ranking system.

"The party constitution had one position of deputy federal council chairperson. So, if the federal congress is the highest decision-making body, in this case, we resolved that election of the second deputy position will be [held] at the next federal council in June and it was agreed.

"So, there is no one who can change such a decision, except the same body, which has to be the next congress," Ramulifho told News24.

However, Selfe referred the dispute to the DA's federal legal commission on Sunday, after MP Kevin Mileham and Mazzone raised objections against what they called the "purported" resolution of the congress to defer the matter to the council.

"In order to seek clarity, the matter was taken to the federal legal commission, which resolved that the position of a second deputy chairperson of the federal council is to be filled by way of the result of the vote that took place on April 8, 2018, during federal congress," the party said in a statement.

The ruling of the commission, seen by News24, states that the congress had no legal power to defer the election of the deputy to the federal council.

It states that the decision of the congress referred process to another structure of the party.

"For this reason, the 'decision' must be deemed to be ultra vires and null and void. Even if, for the sake of argument, it is to be accepted that federal congress was merely organising the party through the 'decision,' it must also be noted that a decision of federal congress, which is inconsistent with the federal constitution (in as far as it stands in contradiction to the federal constitution while not working to amend it in a formal and lawful manner) must be deemed to have been ultra vires and therefore null and void," the ruling, written by Werner Horn, Annelie Lotriet and Brett Herron, stated.

Ramulifho said he would challenge the federal legal commission's decision and labelled it "flawed".

"There is no way anyone can change the decision of congress, except congress," he said.

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