Newly elected DA eThekwini caucus leader Nicole Graham. Picture: Facebook
Durban - The composition of the ­newly-elected DA caucus leadership in eThekwini has caused consternation inside and outside the party, with critics lambasting its lack of diversity.

Provincial leader and former caucus head Zwakele Mncwango said he was “disappointed” with the new structure which contains four white councillors and one Indian.

“Any leader who is serious about diversity and who understands where we come from as a country should be concerned. I would be lying to the public to say I am not. If anyone says they are not concerned, it means they do not understand where we come from as a country,” an angry Mncwango said.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane refused to comment and directed The Mercury to the provincial leader.

A DA councillor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was very disappointed that the leadership structure did not have one black person and felt the party was regressing.

“There is no growth that we can realise because in areas like Durban North we have reached the ceiling. The strategic areas are the townships. With a leadership this white, it will be a difficult task.”

The elected DA councillors are: Nicole Graham, caucus leader; Heinz de Boer, deputy caucus leader; Riona Gokool, caucus chairperson; Warren Burne, deputy chairperson; and Geoff Pullan, the deputy chief whip.

Mncwango said those who were voting should have foreseen the possibility that the outcome could be one lacking diversity. “The entire caucus needs to do some introspection. But I respect the outcome.”

Mncwango said at the upcoming DA national conference a motion will be introduced calling on diversity to be added as its fourth value in addition to Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity.

Mncwango said the 59 councillors in the DA caucus should shoulder the blame. “They should ask themselves if they are happy with the outcome. I am not blaming one race but all members of the caucus. The white councillors are in the minority in that caucus while Indians and Africans are in the majority.”

Glenwood DA councillor and new caucus leader Nicole Graham said that there were two young women in the leadership of the caucus was a sign of diversity, adding that the DA has an “incredibly diverse caucus” in eThekwini.

She stressed the composition of the leadership was the outcome of a democratic process. That there were many new councillors in eThekwini she said she will ensure they get sufficient training and development so leadership is more reflective of the demographics. Political analyst Bukani Mngoma said the election of a caucus that is not representative of the demographics in eThekwini was an “own goal” by the DA.

“Yes they may argue that it is the outcome of a democratic process but they have let democracy override demographics. They needed to be sensitive to demographics and a bit strategic on this one,” he said.

Mngoma said the DA may now find it difficult to achieve its goal of bringing the ANC support under 50% in the next election given some of the developments.

“The ANC is going to have an easy way in terms of dealing with them. This issue becomes one of the issues they will use against the DA,” Mngoma said.

The party is already trying to quell fires and allegations of racism after charging Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille with misconduct. But Mngoma said the DA has been having a credibility crisis in matters of race with even some of its leaders like Helen Zille having been accused of racists tweets in the recent past.

The Mercury understands that the DA caucus is likely to appoint a black councillor as a chief whip in order to try to contain the fallout over this.

The representation of the DA at Exco is also going to be decided by the leader of the caucus in consultation with the party’s federal council.

However, Mncwango said no window dressing would help.

The Mercury