Johannesburg - The DA’s campaign to take over Gauteng was dealt a major blow when one of its pioneering black members, City of Joburg councillor Toni Molefe, defected to the ANC.
Molefe, who was the DA’s deputy chief whip in the City of Joburg, crossed over to the ANC along with another senior Gauteng leader, Sipho Masigo.
Masigo was the DA’s Gauteng deputy chairman, and one of his duties was to monitor the performance of DA public representatives such as caucus leaders Jack Bloom and Mmusi Maimane in the legislature and the City of Joburg respectively.
Molefe’s departure is the biggest loss yet to be experienced by the DA in the Joburg region.
He was, mayor Parks Tau admitted, one of the most vocal DA members in Soweto and the province.
Molefe was the face of the DA in Soweto before Maimane’s arrival in 2011 and subsequent meteoric rise.
Molefe and Masigo told the media at a news conference on Thursday their defection had noting to do with Maimane’s elevation in the DA ranks.
The two addressed the media along with Tau and ANC Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura.
The two claimed veteran black DA leaders were excluded from influential leadership positions. They painted a picture of internal policy confusion, especially on issues of black economic empowerment.
Claims of racism also resurfaced. The claims initially emerged when two former DA City of Tshwane councillors, Sam Moimane and Sello Maila, defected to the ANC on February 6.
At the time, Moimane predicted that more black DA councillors were on their way to the ANC.
Moimane said at the time: “I am going to recruit one councillor for the ANC every month. These councillors will only come from Tshwane.
“Next month, (March 9) is Helen Zille’s birthday. She was my leader, I will not recruit any councillor as her birthday present. But in April I will bring at least two councillors to the ANC.”
The Tshwane DA rubbished Moimane’s claim and said he and Maila were underperforming.
On Thursday, Moimane said the ANC’s recent acquisition of Molefe and Masigo was proof that veteran black leaders were sidelined for significant positions in the party.
Masigo said he quit the DA because “it was not growing its own timber”.
DA Gauteng leader John Moodey said in response his party would like to thank the ANC for taking “problem councillors Toni Molefe and Sipho Masigo off the DA’s hands”.
Moodey said Molefe had been disqualified from running for the DA Youth chairmanship position in Gauteng because he was too old.
He was undergoing a disciplinary inquiry for dishonest attempts to favour certain candidates while sitting on the electoral college for DA lists.
Molefe admitted on Thursday that he had been removed from the deputy chair of the DA’s electoral college for using Facebook to push for certain black people to be elected to senior positions in Gauteng.
“Masigo was unelectable on the DA’s list for Parliament and is under financial strain. He was recently called in for a poor-performance discussion,” Moodey said.