The DA suspended City PR councillor Abdulkader Elyas, who came under fire last year for allegedly lying about his medical qualifications.
Elyas was thrust into the spotlight after questions were raised about the veracity of his qualifications. He had on his social media accounts purported to hold a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree obtained between 2013 and 2018.
When the scandal first broke, he said it was common cause that he was a medical student, not a medical doctor.
By November last year, the party said they conducted an internal investigation.
Approached for comment on the current status of the matter, DA spokesperson Richard Newton said: “I can confirm that Abdulkader Elyas has been suspended and the Federal Legal Commission (FLC) investigation is under way.”
City chief whip Desiree Visagie said this was a party matter where due process must be allowed to unfold.
DA Federal Council chairperson Helen Zille said Elyas would now face a disciplinary hearing, but she could not say how long it would take. Elyas did not respond to requests for comment by deadline on Wednesday.
Several DA public office-bearers have faced similar allegations in the past, including former MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, former chief whip Natasha Mazzone, safety and security Mayco member JP Smith, former Mayco member, Xanthea Limberg and former Saldanha mayor Marius Koen.
University of the Free State research fellow and local governance expert Dr Harlan Cloete said it was “unfortunately common practice” and “people get away with it”.
“The DA has had a lot of cases. It is also not unique to the DA, the ANC has also had cases. It says something about the vetting process of the political party.
When presenting their candidates to the IEC, they vouch for them.
“If we want quality councillors, we need to jack up our vetting process. Of late the pattern in the DA of people misrepresenting their education links the qualification and quality of life. It opens doors.
“The latest human resource development report says only 15% of the labour force has a post-school qualification as their highest level of education. So it sets you apart and society also places a very high value on qualifications. People are desperate for political office because it’s the first step into the middle class and it's not hard labour,” Cloete said.
The ANC in the Western Cape welcomed the suspension but criticised the amount of time it took for the DA to take action.
“We have spoken out against this matter last year already when the allegations first surfaced.
“The DA took extremely long to act and we were ridiculed for playing cheap politics. We are now vindicated.
“This is yet another sign of the DA not taking the residents of the Western Cape and Cape Town and South Africa seriously.
“They often field people who are not truthful about their qualifications and don’t do the necessary checks and balances. Such a political party cannot be trusted further to govern this country, to govern this city and to govern the Western Cape. We are hoping that once their process is concluded, heads are going to be rolling,” ANC MPL Khalid Sayed said.
While welcoming the suspension, GOOD Party councillor Suzette Little said: “We are disappointed that several other councillors with more serious allegations have not been dealt with and cases seem to drag on for ever.”
“GOOD is aware of three councillors who have been accused and charged of rape, yet investigations carry on without suspensions. This lack of action by the DA leaves one to wonder if the DA really cares about clean governance or if this is just part of a well-orchestrated media campaign.”
National Coloured Congress (NCC) president Fadiel Adams said if Elyas is found to be guilty of decorating his CV, criminal charges must be laid.
“However, was alderman JP Smith not alleged to have done the same thing recently, why was there no suspension?
Why is the DA blatant in its defence of alleged crime by white people? Why is the DA happy to apply the law when a person of colour is alleged to have committed crime? Do they believe that there are two separate rules for two different shades of people?”
However, Zille denied allegations of disparities between how different races were treated in the party.
“It is completely not true. A white male lost his position when he slightly misrepresented. We have absolutely been consistent.”