DA's Mbali Ntuli asks members to reject branch meetings from proceeding

Mbali Ntuli. (Herman Verwey/City Press)
Mbali Ntuli. (Herman Verwey/City Press)
  • DA leadership hopeful Mbali Ntuli wrote to party representatives, calling for a halt to annual general meetings.
  • She said going ahead with the meetings puts members at risk of contracting Covid-19.
  • Ntuli said there was no guarantee that members would be able to self-isolate or access to quality healthcare if ill.

DA leadership hopeful Mbali Ntuli, who is recovering after contracting Covid-19, has once again written to party representatives, this time issuing a warning against holding branch meetings, known as annual general meetings (AGM).

She said the meetings put the party's members at risk and leave others out.

The communiqué, which News24 has seen, documented her own battle with the novel coronavirus during which she was hospitalised. 

In it, she also appealed to members to speak to their federal council representatives to reject the online congress scheduled for October and wait instead.

READ | It felt like an elephant was on my chest - DA's Mbali Ntuli on contracting Covid-19

The DA's federal council is expected to sit this weekend and endorse a decision by the federal executive to push ahead with a virtual conference to elect new leadership.

Ntuli is up against current interim leader, John Steenhuisen, and long-time Gauteng leader, John Moodey, for the position. Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty also announced his decision to stand for federal council chairperson, a role currently held by former party leader Helen Zille, who returned to active politics. Her return led to the resignation of numerous party members, including former leader Mmusi Maimane, former federal chairperson Athol Trollip and former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

"As a candidate in the leadership race, I assure you that I would like nothing more than to have a conclusion to what has been the DA's most protracted leadership race, but it would be unconscionable of me to support something that has the potential of making our members sick just for a leadership position,"
- Mbali Ntuli in her letter to party representatives

Using her on experience and that of a local councillor who also contracted Covid-19, she said due to the nature of constituencies they served in areas such as Umlazi, there was no workable alternative to direct contact.

Nutli argued that holding the AGMs next month put members and staffers who have to oversee processes, at risk of contracting the virus.

"We will be asking members to get into taxis, sit in a hall, hold an AGM and then get back on taxis to go home - all so we can elect a leader in October," said Ntuli.

Access to healthcare

She also said the party could not guarantee that all its members would have the ability to self-isolate if they became sick.

"We cannot guarantee that they will even have the ability to access quality healthcare should they take a turn for the worst," Ntuli added.

When asked for comment, spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi confirmed that Ntuli penned the note.

READ | DA may need to review virtual conference if branch AGMs do not go well - Moriarty

"Mbali Ntuli has again written to DA public reps urging them to reject the proposal scheduled to be deliberated at this weekend’s meeting of the DA's federal council, citing logistical, health and legitimacy reasons," said Mgobozi.

He said Ntuli believed the period was better used to discuss issues highlighted in last year's review report on the state of the organisation, following its performance at the national polls in 2019.

"Congresses are more than just electing leadership, but having deliberations about how we move forward into the LGE2021(local government elections in 2021) and beyond and that every member of the party has their voices heard in this regard," said Mgobozi.

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