Johannesburg - More leaders of the DA Youth are looking for "exit strategies" and considering resigning, after the national youth leader Mbali Ntuli jumped ship at the weekend
Independent Newspapers understands that youth chairman, Yusuf Cassim, and media head, Thorne Godinho, are considering resigning – joining a lengthy list of DA leaders who’ve already spurned the “toothless” formation.
Those who had already resigned include acting DA Youth KwaZulu-Natal chairwoman, Nicole Graham, who resigned six months ago.
Cassim said there were challenges facing the DA youth but he wanted to “continue the fight”.
“It means we need to try and pull as many of our efforts as possible, to get our structures running and have properly trained activists. The DA youth itself has always been a work in progress,” he said.
“The leadership in provinces has been transient. People get a job, and struggle to balance the two. But we’ve got many, many members. These were the teething problems and baby steps we need to take.”
Gordinho said: “At this moment in time I have not made any decisions about my role in DA youth”.
He did not deny, however, he was considering resigning.
Graham told Independent Newspapers that she resigned because she was “concerned there was no commitment to youth issues” from the party.
“I wasn’t sure of the support DA Youth was getting,” she said.
DA federal executive chairman, James Selfe, denied the party’s highest structures were haemorrhaging prominent leaders after the sudden resignations of parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and CEO Jonathan Moakes.
“People have the right to resign. (Ntuli) wants to focus on her constituency (in northern KwaZulu-Natal),” he said.
He said Moakes resigned to pursue his “private business interests”, and Mazibuko had only left in order to “study overseas”.
“You describe Fedex as being ‘plagued’ by resignations and ‘haemorraghing’ members, but that is not the case. It’s a body which is constantly renewing,” Selfe said.
“It’s not a crisis. It’s a normal process of people (leaving).”
But a former DA youth provincial leader said there was “no support” for the structure from national leaders, saying the body was effectively “toothless”. The former leader said current leaders worried “about some of the personalities” – including party leader, Helen Zille, who did “not want to support people she doesn’t like”.
“Mbali felt the DA youth might be able to do more without her,” the leader said.
Ntuli and Zille have had much-publicised altercations, when the national leader accused the young politician of behaving like a prima donna.
“The place to be an individual and critical is increasingly small,” the same former provincial leader said.
DA youth leaders have previously been vocal in their criticism of Zille’s utterances on Twitter – including Graham speaking out against the premier’s description of Eastern Cape migrants as “refugees” in Cape Town.
The premier was also slated for her mooted HIV-test lottery, which offered monetary prizes for going for blood tests.
Independent Newspapers understands that while some young people may be reluctant to resign, “lots” of them are “looking for exit strategies” due to Zille’s sometimes paranoid and autocratic style of leadership.
Leaders also alleged that DA youth has been stripped of “organisational support” and has been expected to function without a national youth director.
“In the new staff organogram there is no support for DA youth,” a former leader said.
There are also apparently no mechanisms to replace youth leaders who resign – with the next youth congress only scheduled for next year.
For example, Gauteng has also seen its provincial leader step down.
The DA did not respond to questions by the time of publication.
* This story has been updated with a longer version.