Collective list of grievances against Ngqura leader, suspension of councillor show not all well in party, writes Rochelle de Kock
TENSIONS within the DA’s Nelson Mandela Bay structures have been laid bare in a scathing grievance letter which makes claims of character assassination, purging, factionalism and cronyism against the party’s Ngqura constituency leader, Nqaba Bhanga.
A day after the letter was sent by a group of angry black councillors and activists to the DA’s Eastern Cape chairwoman, Veliswa Mvenya, Bay councillor Knight Mali was, on Thursday, served with a letter of intention to suspend him.
But the party’s provincial disciplinary committee chairman, Kevin Mileham, said: “Councillor Mali’s suspension and pending disciplinary inquiry have nothing to do with the grievance letter.”
Mali, who has consistently raised concerns about racism within the party, has to respond to five allegations levelled against him, which include sowing divisions within the party and bringing the DA into disrepute.
He was given 24 hours to explain why he should not be suspended from party activities pending an investigation and/or disciplinary hearing.
He was also given notice to appear before the panel of the provincial disciplinary committee next Friday to respond to charges of misconduct.
He is accused of coercing another DA councillor – over the phone – to discuss internal caucus matters with Weekend Post sister publication The Herald, and for saying that the DA had nothing to offer him.
The letter from Mileham to Mali states: “On or about 2 September 2015 . . . in a meeting at which two DA councillors were present, you inappropriately and/or improperly and/or unacceptably canvassed their support to join the African National Congress . . . to bring the party into disrepute.
“Specifically, you informed the councillors that ‘the ANC has given us a budget, even if the DA fire us we will be paid, and we must choose what kind of job that we want’.”
Mali confirmed yesterday that he had received the letter, and denied the charges levelled against him.
“I’m rejecting them with the full contempt they deserve.
“They amount to hearsay. I will get a legal representative that will prove my innocence.
“I will follow the processes of the party to the letter,” Mali said.
Meanwhile, in the grievance letter to Mvenya – signed by Mali along with two other DA councillors, Bahle Ngqondela and Mzukisi Ncamani, and five party activists – they complained about being sidelined. The other signatories to the letter are: Mthetho Makisi (Ngqura constituency secretary), Mbuleli Krazo (Wells Estate activist), Sindiswa Ngqondela (provincial committee member), Vuyo Qoko (former Ward 23 chairperson), and Wayne Jordaan (interim Wells Estate chairman).
They accused Bhanga of “persistently perpetrating” acts of misconduct since the Ngqura constituency office opened last year. Bhanga would not comment on the allegations and referred questions to Mileham. Bhanga is accused of:
• Being disrespectful and embarrassing some councillors by speaking down to them;
• Allegedly defaming and speaking negatively about some black DA councillors while in taverns, saying that he would replace them with his friends from COPE;
• Promoting factionalism by allegedly creating parallel structures in his constituency;
• Belittling some councillors by divulging information about their personal and private financial affairs;
• Subjecting councillors to ridicule and hostile confrontations in front of colleagues at public political events;
• Trying to label incumbent councillors as lazy and useless in full view of others; and
• Attending constituency meetings under the influence of alcohol or smelling of liquor.
The group states in the letter: “In our collective analysis and observations, it is quite apparent that there is a well-orchestrated and thoroughly executed plan to purge incumbent councillors in an attempt to make way for more seats in council next year for ex-COPE candidates to become councillors.
“It is evident a strange and foreign culture of cronyism has emerged . . . [in] our DA fold.
“It is our wish that we partake in the enormous political campaign work that lies ahead, and be given the equal opportunity – same as our favoured colleagues – to contribute towards the 2016 elections. “We have worked tirelessly for this party, some of us for almost 10 years. We have no other political home than the DA.”
They added that they had become despondent and had not even tried to apply for another term in office, although they badly wanted to.
Mileham said the charges against Mali were of an extremely serious nature, and that there had been no prior complaints against Bhanga.