Phumzile Van Damme. Picture: David Ritchie.

Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance was desperately recruiting and parading black people in a bid to conceal its real identity, the ANC said on Sunday.

Reacting to the Sunday Times report that cast doubt on DA MP Phumzile van Damme's eligibility to be a Member of Parliament, the office of the ANC chief whip accused the DA of cutting corners.

“It would seem that, in its window-dressing exercise of desperately recruiting and parading black people to conceal its real identity, the DA has cut corners,” spokesman Moloto Mothapo said in a statement.

By doing so, the DA had exposed a young African woman to unnecessary public humiliation.

“This public scrutiny into her personal life... could have been avoided had the DA conducted basic checks and made corrections where necessary,” he said.

The scrutiny on Van Damme's personal life was unfair, intrusive and cruel.

“The DA should take full responsibility for putting her in this situation by flouting processes in its bid to use young blacks as window dressers in its ranks,” said Mothapo.

“The DA does not have the interest of bright young black people except to exploit, humiliate and discard them, as they have done recently with Lindiwe Mazibuko.”

Earlier on Sunday, the DA said Van Damme was oblivious of questions around her citizenship until the Sunday Times made an inquiry to her.

Spokesman Marius Redelinghuys said in a statement that Van Damme was a South African.

“Van Damme is a South African citizen and possesses the necessary documentation to support this, including a birth certificate and a valid identity document,” he said.

“She was also under the impression that she was born outside Nelspruit, as reflected in her birth certificate.”

After being shown the Sunday Times' allegations, Van Damme categorically said she has not had an opportunity to investigate the circumstances of her birth and registration, having accepted her mother's account.

The newspaper reported that Van Damme was born in Manzini, Swaziland, in 1983, and that her mother, Lynette van Damme, was born in Hlathikhulu village, also in Swaziland.

Van Damme's biological father, Elroy Mayisela, was also a Swazi national.

If Van Damme was found to have misrepresented her citizenship, it would disqualify her from being a South African MP, the newspaper reported.

Redelinghuys said the Sunday Times report was libellous and the party would lay a complaint with the Press Ombudsman. - Sapa