DA MP quits over Israel-Palestine stance

Former DA MP MP Ghaleb Cachalia.

Former DA MP MP Ghaleb Cachalia.

Published Jan 19, 2024


The DA’s position on Palestine and the war in Gaza is among a long list of reasons listed by former MP Ghaleb Cachalia for his resignation from the party.

DA leader John Steenhuisen removed his public enterprises shadow minister from his ‘cabinet’ in November last year for breaking ranks with the party over its stance on the Israel-Palestine war, after he posted: “I will not be silenced.

“Israel is committing genocide. Full bloody stop,” on social media platform X.

In a 30-page document, including the resignation, a letter to the chairperson of the Federal Executive, Helen Zille, and various appendices, Cachalia said: “I have been accused of contradicting DA official policy and contravening a caucus injunction to only allow the shadow minister for Dirco (Department of International Relations and Co-operation) to comment on related matters.

“I have since received a ‘cease and desist’ notification. In my response to the DA leadership, I dispute the validity of any firm and documented policy as approved through appropriate structures. I note that no such policy is available on any DA website.

“Moreover, I have not been furnished with any caucus decision which empowers the shadow minister with sole rights of commentary on the matter. This evinces a growing dysfunctional, undemocratic and authoritarian tendency in the party.

“I am unable to reconcile democratic centralism (the organisational principle of socialist and communist institutions and parties where all political decisions without exception are binding upon all members) with federalism, open debate, expression and interaction with the general public.

“Moreover, the party’s worrying move away from the centre of the political spectrum, in its embracing of right-wing tribal, religious and ultra-libertarian partners, the appointment of PR/lobbying/electoral firms with decidedly dubious pasts and the wooing of organisations like the Afrikanerbond to endorse the multi-party charter, present serious cause for concern.”

Cachalia’s resignation comes after DA member of the Gauteng legislature Khume Ramulifho called it quits on Tuesday. Ramulifho, who had been with the DA for more than 12 years, has defected to Songezo Zibi’s Rise Mzansi party, saying he believed that his new party will be an ideal home as it was founded on the ethos of unity in purpose.

DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said they accepted Cachalia’s resignation as a member of Parliament and of the party.

“We will write to the Speaker of Parliament to fill the resulting vacancy.

“The DA categorically rejects the claims Cachalia has manufactured in an attempt to justify his resignation, including his mischaracterisation of the party’s position on the war in Gaza. The DA remains irrevocably committed to peace, to a two-state solution, and to the creation of a sovereign and unoccupied Palestine in peaceful co-existence next to a secure Israel. The DA is home to members from all walks of life with divergent views on various issues,” said Malatsi.

The party said Cachalia had shown “disrespect” for party processes, his colleagues, and for “the diversity of views in the DA mounted over time”.

“The DA further rejects his attack on the party’s coalition partners, on civil society that has rallied behind the Multi-Party Charter, and on the DA’s systems and processes,” Malatsi added.

Stellenbosch University’s School of Public Leadership director, Professor Zwelinzima Ndevu, said the departure of leaders of colour from the DA was a “worrying phenomenon”.

“I think it is worrying phenomenon that leaders of colour are leaving the DA with many of them singing from the same hymn, highlighting the party’s style of leadership which is not transparent and doesn’t accommodate diverse views.

“The timing of this exodus of leaders will have a negative impact on the DA’s election performance, especially in the disadvantaged communities.

It is maybe time for the DA to do an honest reflection on what may have gone wrong and try to address any issues internally,” Ndevu said.

Cape Times