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Wendy Jasson da Costa
Ongoing differences between leaders in the DA’s caucus in eThekwini have resulted in the resignation of its chief whip, Dean Macpherson.
The Mercury understands that Macpherson, who was appointed to the position by caucus leader Tex Collins, resigned in writing on Monday night, after the two almost came to blows at a caucus meeting last Friday.
Insiders said Macpherson’s unhappiness stemmed from how the DA’s exco councillors, Collins and Ronnie Veeran, had dealt with issues, most notably the Manase report. The matter had apparently divided the 43-member caucus into those who support the work of the exco councillors and those who felt not enough was being done to hold the ANC accountable.
Yesterday Macpherson refused to discuss the issue in the media, saying it was an internal DA matter. However, he confirmed that he had resigned, but emphasised that he was still “a loyal member of the DA and ward councillor of Durban North”.
The Mercury has seen the letter submitted by Macpherson in which he states: “I have resigned due to the growing perception among ratepayers and residents that we are failing to address the big issues facing the city, and failing to effectively hold the ANC to account – particularly in the executive committee. My resignation from this appointment puts me in a more appropriate position to hold our elected leadership and representatives to account.”
Collins said the issue was “an internal process which will be handled internally by the DA”.
It is believed that Collins came under pressure from within the caucus after a recent article by The Mercury's sister newspaper, Sunday Tribune, quoted him as saying that he could not reveal what he had read in the Manase report which had been kept secret by the city for at least a year, because he had signed an oath. At the time he said: “It is just not worth losing my job for it. Nothing is worth losing your job (over). I have a strict set of principles that guide me and under no circumstances will I break them.”
He said he would not break his silence even for Durban ratepayers.
It is not the first time he has come under attack. Attempts to unseat him happened during an overseas trip in 2011. At that time Macpherson came to his defence, but had subsequently veered to the side of his detractors. Attempts to replace Collins occurred again last July.
At the time it emerged that Macpherson and Warwick Chapman, a councillor for the Umbilo/Glenwood area, were plotting to unseat him – a claim they both denied.
Yesterday the DA’s provincial leader, Sizwe Mchunu, said the problem was related to leadership issues within the caucus, “I won’t say it’s a personal conflict”.
Asked whether Macpherson would be asked to reconsider, Mchunu said: “If a person has submitted a resignation letter there is no way that the party can disregard it.”
He said that the eThekwini branch was a credible structure and he was satisfied with the “consistent pressure” exerted on city to ensure the Manase report was released.
“I've never received any notice of any formal structure of the party that expressed disquiet with Tex's leadership,” Mchunu said.