Durban - DA defector Ronnie Veeran has turned on his former party, accusing it of using black faces as a ploy to win votes and quashing internal criticism of the way the party is run.
These claims have been rejected by the DA leader in the province, Sizwe Mchunu.
In an interview with the Daily News, Veeran spoke of “serious cracks and divisions within the party” because black DA members were not allowed free speech and often faced disciplinary action if they challenged or disagreed with party leader Helen Zille.
“The party’s provincial leadership gave me prepared scripts for speeches which I was told in no uncertain terms that I had to stick to when they selected me as their eThekwini mayoral candidate last year.
“Everything we say and do is monitored by Zille, who pulls all the strings, and even our campaign posters are provided by our national office bearing Zille’s face,” Veeran said.
“We had to print our own posters to canvass in our communities, like Phoenix, because they failed to provide for this,” said Veeran, who switched allegiance to the ANC.
Joining him was fellow party member Roy Moodley.
Describing his defection as a “weight off his shoulders”, Veeran lashed out at the DA, while boasting of being the party’s “longest serving Indian ward councillor in the country together with Moodley”, having served more than 38 years.
But since his change last week, Veeran has accused senior DA leaders of, among other things:
l Running the party like an army camp, with Zille turning on black party members if they became more popular than her.
l Lacking a pro-poor approach and using black members as “window dressing” to get more black votes.
l Failing to follow due processes when dealing with individuals, and often taking unilateral decisions without consultation.
l An unhealthy obsession with controlling what members said, with Zille described as an “iron-fisted control freak”.
Within minutes of the defection, the DA sought to minimise the impact of the parting, claiming that the men were suspended earlier for leaking sensitive information to the ANC.
However, Veeran rejected this, challenging the party to prove the claim. “That’s rubbish; they are just trying to save their image because they’ve lost two key people.
“My defection was a gradual process...”
On his claims against the DA, Mchunu said Veeran was simply trying to appease his new party, the ANC.
“Veeran has been a DA party faithful for more than 35 years. Why didn’t he voice his concerns over the party all this while?
“He was only too happy to stand as our eThekwini mayoral candidate and did not even dispute or challenge his termination of membership from the party last week, which we wrote to inform him of – he should have contested our reasons if he felt we were wrong.
“The truth is he has been unhappy ever since the party’s vote of no confidence in him on Exco, as he has told me himself,” said Mchunu.