Mbali Ntuli eyes DA top job: 'If we don't save the DA, we cannot save SA'

Mbali Ntuli. (Herman Verwey/City Press)
Mbali Ntuli. (Herman Verwey/City Press)

"If we don't save the DA, we cannot save South Africa."

This is the view of Mbali Ntuli, DA member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, who will this week formally announce her availability to contest for the position of federal leader in April.

News24 has seen a letter she penned to the party's public representatives explaining the reason behind her decision to stand.

"I will not watch the organisation that we have built over many years disappear into oblivion," wrote Ntuli.

Her letter to representatives of the party comes amid speculation that three prominent DA leaders will take on interim DA leader John Steenhuisen, who has said he will run for the position of party leader.

On Monday, long-time Gauteng DA leader John Moodey told a provincial executive committee meeting he will not be available to return as Gauteng chief in June, confirming to News24 that he was "seriously considering" putting his name in the hat for federal leader.

The DA has been on a downward slope, which saw it perform poorly in the 2019 general elections. This was followed by the resignation of Mmusi Maimane as federal leader.

READ MORE: Mmusi Maimane resigns from DA and Parliament

It has also lost control of the municipalities it governed through coalition governments, including Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg, with Tshwane on the brink as its second DA mayor stepped down under a cloud of scandal.

While she raised concerns over the state of South Africa in her letter, she focused a lot of attention on the health of the organisation and she said it was in "deep crisis". She added it will not be able to pull the country out of its current situation.

South Africa's economy has been contracting year on year, with unemployment on the rise and the battle against corruption not yielding any quick wins or convictions.

Ntuli, in citing the party's recent "series of losses", said it didn't appear that things would get better for the country's second largest political party.

DA had lost donors

Some of the concerns she raised included losing half a million votes in the 2019 elections, bleeding activists and members, losing a federal leader, chairperson and mayor.

She said the DA had lost donors who no longer believed in the party and valuable staff through resignations and retrenchments. She also complained of the party losing municipalities and the confidence other opposition parties had in it.

"Not a single commentator in the country has anything positive to say about our party any longer," she remarked.

Ntuli also tackled a culture of fear within the organisation, saying many are too afraid to openly criticise the DA's leadership out of a fear of reprisals.

"In any other organisation in the world the broader membership would rise-up in anger against its leadership for such failure," she said.

'Permanent state of damage control'

The provincial leader said the DA is now in a "permanent state of damage control" and no longer focused on becoming government but trying to retain its current support, which she says seemed impossible.

She also touched on fears of how the 2021 local government elections would impact the party's councillors, warning that many stand to lose jobs.

"Everyday I hear from our councillors about their fears of not getting re-elected. This is not because they did not perform but because our party will not perform," she cautioned.

Ntuli said in the letter she wanted party representatives to hear about her decision directly from her ahead of making it public on February 7.

The DA's conference is set to take place on April 4 and 5.

Ntuli was not available for comment.

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