Head of AD, John Steenhuisen
The DA prides itself on being the official South African opposition party, determined to speak out against corruption and present a transformed and united front.
However, this week has shown signs of an organization in disarray after one of its advisers was accused of fraud and corruption; the party lost four other neighborhoods in by-elections; and one of its most prominent Members of Parliament (MPs), Phumzile van Damme, jumped out of the ship.
âMy resignation as an MP is not because the DA is a so-called ‘racist party’, but because of a clique of individuals – and in order not to hurt the good women and men who are still part of the DA, I will not dig any further, âVan Damme said in his resignation letter.
LILY: Phumzile van Damme abandons AD in Parliament
Several senior DA officials have left the party or been dismissed recently, including former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and former party leader Mmusi Maimane.
However, speaking to City Press, DA leader John Steenhuisen defended the party and denied the existence of divisions.
âThere are no cliques that I know of. We have elected leaders who are accountable and have a mandate – in my case an 80% – to implement what we were elected to do. There is no division in the party. The DA is united and focused on the local government registration campaign and elections, âSteenhuisen said.
As Van Damme left, he said: âShe said she only resigned from Parliament. We thank her for her service and wish her good luck in all her future endeavors.
Phumzile van Damme Photo: Jaco Marais
RETURN OF BY-ELECTIONS
It has long been Steenhuisen’s contention that the DA needs only to get rid of the ideological ambiguity that characterized the leadership of its predecessor, Maimane, and its course will once again be stabilized.
In the Super Wednesday by-elections held in November last year, the party ceded nine neighborhoods and won just two. It has performed a little better in the by-elections held since then, but has still seen a significant drop in voter share.
LILY: ANC triumphs again in by-elections, while DA loses four quarters
This crisis was particularly pronounced among voters of color and Indians.
Many in the DA have argued that the reason the party acted miserably at the polls is the negative publicity it received. However, Steenhuisen hopes this will not affect the outcome of the local elections.
The DA leader told City Press that it is not only his party that hurts at the polls: âThe DA continues to show that it is stabilizing and moving towards a growth trajectory. The party has shown satisfactory results in a number of communities. In some neighborhoods, we exceeded our share of the vote from 2016, and in the majority, we increased our share of the vote from 2019.
âThis shows good signs of stability and growth for the DA and declining fortunes for the ANC, which has fallen from 22% to 16% in this cycle. It shows that we can get it below 50% in metropolitan areas, which is a good thing. “
To add to the party’s woes, DA Cape Town advisor Nora Grose has been charged with fraud and money laundering for allegedly using R70,000 in Employer / Employee Temporary Relief Program funds for food parcels in Atlantis, Western Cape.
The prosecutor said that by coming forward to be formally charged, the adviser did not plead any charges.
At the same time, Cape Town’s mayor Dan Plato said the city’s legal services department has been working with the authorities for some time and no malpractice has been found. Plato said the allegations were investigated by the office of the president of Cape Town.
Steenhuisen said: âWe cannot comment on the embarrassment to the party if the matter is not over. We issued a statement on the party’s position on Councilor Grose. She’s been charged, so we’ll wait until the case is over. “
He insisted he was not discouraged by the current developments.
We don’t all speak. We have strengthened our momentum and now we must face the ANC in municipalities across the country, as well as defend our own municipalities.
âI don’t think the publicity affects the party because our voters know that DA policies are the best and are the only ones that will move South Africa forward. We are focusing on the elections and everything else will come later. Voters will see that we are the party to vote for.
âThe ANC has a lot of political problems that it fails to implement, even among themselves. Voters will see that we can make a difference.
A handful of DA Gauteng members gathered at the party’s Nkululeko house in Bruma, Johannesburg, to join the virtual Time for Change rally. Photo: Tebogo Letsie
âWe don’t all speak. We have strengthened our momentum and now we must face the ANC in municipalities across the country, as well as defend our own municipalities. At the polls, we take no drama with us, but a mandate, which is to win. We do not accept any postponement because we believe we can win. “
A handful of DA Gauteng members gathered at the party’s Nkululeko house in Bruma, Johannesburg, to join the virtual Time for Change rally.
Provincial leaders addressed their respective constituents ahead of Steenhuisen’s main speech.