Cape Town - In the latest controversy to rock the DA in KwaZulu-Natal, two of its longest-serving councillors have jumped ship and joined the ANC.
The official announcement is set to be made on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Ronnie Veeran and Roy Moodley - who, between them, have almost 40 years of experience as councillors - both alluded to the fact that they were joining the ruling party and a short while later the ANC’s Bongani Tembe released a statement, saying that the party would be welcoming “new senior members from the DA”.
This followed an announcement by the DA that Veeran and Moodley had been suspended, after a special sitting of the party’s provincial management committee on Tuesday.
DA provincial chairman Haniff Hoosen said that the two had been “sabotaging” the party by leaking sensitive information to the ANC.
Hoosen would not reveal details of the “leaked” information, only saying that it had to do with “party strategy”.
“We believe these two councillors have been working with the ANC since March,” he said.
Both men have vehemently denied the allegations.
“Those claims are false, my hands are clean,” Moodley said.
He said after 17 years with the party, 14 of them as a councillor, he had resigned but would not say why.
“Then, on Tuesday night, I was told my membership had been revoked,” he said.
He believed the DA wanted to “pick a fight”.
“The gloves are off,” he said. “I had hoped they would respect my leaving, but if a fight is what they want, a fight is what they’ll get.”
Moodley was confident that when he left the DA his Phoenix constituents would follow him.
Veeran echoed most of Moodley’s sentiments.
Veeran joined the DA in 1987 and spent 18 years as a councillor. He succeeded Colin Gaillard when he was appointed to the executive committee in 2011 and was the DA’s mayoral candidate that year.
He and Moodley had decided they had “had enough,” he said.
“And now the DA is trying to save face,” he said.
Veeran and Moodley said they had not been accused of sabotage directly or had received any warning letters or had disciplinary action taken against them.
The opposition party in the province has been plagued by controversy this year.
In March, Veeran was removed as a member of the municipality’s executive committee after a vote of no confidence was passed against him and the party’s then-caucus leader, Tex Collins.
At the time, party insiders said neither Veeran nor Collins were strong enough leaders.
Zwakhele Mncwango, 34, replaced Collins as caucus leader and, a short while later, DA deputy provincial chairman and ward 33 councillor Warwick Chapman, who had been lauded as one of the party’s “best-performing councillors”, resigned.
Then, in September, rumours surfaced that Mncwango was facing an “internal revolt,” with party insiders saying they were considering passing of a vote of no confidence against him.
Political analyst Protas Madlala said that cracks were beginning to show in the DA.
He believed some of the party’s older members felt threatened by younger members who were coming up through the ranks.