Rodney Lentit resigned from the legislature on Monday, which sparked rumours of an exodus of leaders who were staunch supporters of former DA leader in the province Patricia de Lille, but were against her successor Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Madikizela was elected interim leader of the party in the Western Cape at the weekend, following De Lille’s resignation last month.
Party insiders said DA chief whip in the City of Cape Town Shaun August had been tipped as a strong contender for the post until he, along with De Lille, were probed by the party for allegedly leaking confidential documents surrounding disciplinary actions against him.
Josh Jordaan, a researcher at the City of Cape Town, resigned from the party and as a member of the federal council last week, when he was accused of having leaked the documents.
August and Lentit came from the Patriotic Alliance when the party merged with the DA a few years ago.
On Monday, the ANC described Lentit’s resignation as a sign of divisions in the party.
“The DA is in much deeper trouble than it is prepared to admit."
“The cracks are becoming dongas and the party remains on the course of a slippery slope. The illusion that the DA offers any hope to South Africa and the harsh realities of having no alternative policy or position is catching up with it,” said party leader Khaya Magaxa.
“Lentit’s sudden resignation is the first vote of no confidence in Madikizela and his abilities, even if he is backed by his puppet master Premier Helen Zille and other DA overlords,” he added.
However, in his resignation letter, addressed to the speaker of the provincial parliament Sharna Fernandez, Lentit makes no mention of the allegations made by the ANC.
“After careful thought and consideration, I have concluded that my time at the legislature has come to an end. I have been offered an opportunity that I believe will enrich my long-term career and family goals,” the letter says.
His career in opposition politics started in 2003, when “I joined my political mother, Patricia de Lille, in the Independent Democrats”, he said in the letter.
Earlier this month De Lille suddenly relinquished her position as DA provincial leader.
This came soon after another of her close allies, DA Cape Metro chair Shaun August, alongside City of Cape Town councillor Matthew Kempthorne, were found guilty by the party for not following procurement rules when T-shirts were acquired ahead of last year’s local government elections.
In his resignation letter, Lentit said: “After careful thought and consideration, I have concluded that my time at the Provincial Parliament has come to an end. I have been offered an opportunity that I believe will help me reach my long-term career and family goals”.
Called for comment, he said he would remain a member of the DA, and would help the party towards the 2019 general elections, but that his focus would now be on the retail and property development sector where he had worked prior to his foray into politics in 2003.
Cape Times and Political Bureau