Qualifications issue ‘exposes DA double standards’
DURBAN - THE DA’s poor handling of the qualification scandal involving its senior leaders has reinforced the perception that the party was determined to stifle the prospects of its black leaders.
This is the view of political analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, a senior lecturer at UWC.
DA leader in the Western Cape Bonginkosi Madikizela admitted to not having completed a BCom degree, as stated in his CV. He subsequently stepped down as DA leader and has been suspended as transport MEC in the province, pending a provincial government and DA internal investigation.
Mngomezulu said if the DA had pinned its hopes of growing the party on the black majority electorate, it was now clear this dream had been shattered.
“There is clearly differential treatment of cases involving a black leader as opposed to a white leader, in that the DA did not appear to give comparatively serious attendance to the issue of false legal qualifications for chief whip Natasha Mazzone when it surfaced in 2015,” he said.
He said there was a trend of eliminating black leaders when opportunities were up for grabs, citing the fact that Madikizela had expressed that he would contest the position of mayor of the City of Cape Town.
In relation to Mazzone, the party came out in her defence yesterday, writing an open reply to questions from the Good party, and dismissing claims that she had lied about having finished a law degree.
Good’s provincial legislature member, Brett Herron, had questioned the coincidence, in which Mazzone’s Wikipedia page had been edited under the qualifications subsection on April 15 – just as the story on Madikizela was breaking – to replace “advocate” with “none” and then again to “member of Parliament”.
In a letter addressed to DA leader John Steenhuisen, Herron also cited two other websites, which he said mirrored the legal qualifications for her, adding that allegations against her were as serious as the ones facing Madikizela, and needed to be equally investigated.
In response Ashor Sarupen, the deputy chairperson of the DA federal council said: “Mazzone has, over many years, publicly stated that she never finished her law degree, and she has never claimed to be an attorney or advocate. She has completed her articles, as well as LEAD Legal Training. Her biography, provided by the DA on its website, never made any reference to legal qualifications.”
Ryan Smith, the chief of staff to Steenhuisen, said: “Several investigations are under way to determine the facts, and the party is not entertaining any speculation surrounding this, in order to ensure fairness and transparency. These processes are the responsibility of the federal chairperson (Helen Zille) who cannot provide any further information pending the outcome of the investigations.”