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DA ambushed me, claims defiant Masizole Mnqasela

Senior DA member and provincial legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

Senior DA member and provincial legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Senior DA member and provincial legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela has defied the party, refusing to step down and claiming he was “ambushed” by members of his party about allegations of fraud and corruption.

Stepping down would mean admitting guilt, said Mnqasela, who is among the few remaining senior black leaders in the party in the Western Cape.

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The DA in the province handed over documents to the Hawks for investigation after whistle-blowers provided DA caucus leader and Premier Alan Winde with submissions relating to subsistence, travel and entertainment allowance claims linked to Mnqasela.

The party said the whistle-blowers, who apparently wished to remain anonymous, recently submitted protected disclosures, with documentary evidence, resulting in Winde advising Mnqasela to step down amid the investigation.

But during a press briefing on Sunday, Mnqasela fired back, saying the correct process was not followed to inform him about the allegations.

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“I requested a meeting with the premier on Thursday because it's normal for the Speaker and the premier to meet.

He agreed, but when I arrived, to my surprise there were three other members present at the meeting, which was abnormal.

“When they mentioned the intention they had in terms of what they said they have before them, I said to them, whatever it is that they have, let us follow due process. Parliament has its Code of Conduct Committee.

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“I cannot be found guilty based on somebody saying I said or did whatever; that must be tested. This freedom was designed to protect our people and treat them fairly.

This is a democratic South Africa, not an apartheid government,” said Mnqasela.

He said he would not step down as there was nothing that would warrant such an act.

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“The best thing to do in an environment like this one is to co-operate. I have not been charged or arrested, and I’m not guilty. We live in a democratic South Africa. If I were to step aside it would be as if I’m guilty. I believe in something called process integrity. I heard the allegations during my meeting.

I was literally ambushed. “As a politician, I'm not naive to the reality that there is politics, there's law and there are systems. I pray and hope that there is no malfeasance that borders on the line of factional battles. I do pray and hope that I will be treated with respect, that my rights will be protected, that my family will be protected, and their rights will be respected.

“This has been very embarrassing – extremely embarrassing – and completely disheartening and painful, to see the things, the names that I've been called. I do know, in the end, I will be vindicated. I've done nothing wrong and justice must prevail,” he said.

The Cape Times has learnt that the two whistle-blowers first raised the matter almost a month ago.

They requested protected disclosures be provided to Winde on May 18. Winde apparently spoke to Mnqasela about the matter the next day. The protected disclosures were provided to the Hawks and the FLC on Friday.

DA communications director Richard Newton said there was no ambush.

“The Speaker was asked to step down by the DA caucus leader in the Western Cape, Alan Winde. He was to do so in the light of the allegations against him and the resultant investigations by the Hawks and the FLC. There was no ambush.”

Newton said claims of factions were most likely an attempt to conflate unrelated matters with the investigation into Mnqasela.

“The DA has a zero-tolerance approach to corruption, and when evidence-based allegations arise, we hold our office bearers to account, without fear or favour. It is telling that certain commentators see the DA taking action against potential fraud as being ‘damaging to its reputation’.

The public expects nothing less than the DA’s level of transparency and accountability.”

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said they received the documentation from the DA and were busy evaluating it to determine which mandate it fell under.

University of Stellenbosch’s School of Public Leadership’s Dr Zwelinzima Ndevu said the issue with Mnqasela was something that the DA should be dealing with internally so that the directive from the party was more clear.

“What we see now is internal political infighting within the DA spilling over to the public. What is more worrying is the perceived use of the state resources to address managerial failures with the legislature. This issue is nothing but politics within the DA. They will have to deal with it before it leads to further fallouts,” he said.

Cape Times

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