Former NFP leader Njabulo Mlaba, and a former leader of the DA in KZN, Sizwe Mchunu, are welcomed by ANC KZN provincial secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli after joining the governing party. Picture: Zanele Zulu / African News Agency (ANA)
The DA’s decades-long relationship with its former KwaZulu-Natal leader ended with a whimper rather than a bang this week. There were no surprises. There were no tears, recriminations nor social media and court battles.

It was almost anti-climatic in the end when Sizwe Mchunu crossed the floor to the wide open arms of the ruling ANC.

Mchunu’s dumping of the DA and his starting a “new journey” was nothing like Patricia de Lille’s acrimonious and noisy exit from the same party. But there are some important similarities.

These are two seasoned leaders exiting the official opposition at a crucial time in our maturing democracy. And these two were accompanied by other not-too-shabby leaders who also no longer felt at home in the DA.

This can be seen or spun in many ways, but the latest defections are simply another loss for the DA that had ambitions of one day taking over the running of the country.

This latest reversal can’t be dismissed as counting for nothing. It can’t be argued that it won’t hurt the DA, as the man who deposed Mchunu as KZN DA leader, Zwakele Mncwango, would have us believe.

It may not be as big a loss as De Lille’s, but everything counts in a zero-sum game like the elections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appeal has a lot to do with this week’s developments, but one can also argue that this was yet another own goal bound to impact on the ultimate aggregate score.

* Mazwi Xaba is the editor of the Independent On Saturday