Mbali Ntuli has joined a growing list of prominent black leaders who have left the Democratic Alliance in recent years after she announced her resignation from the party on Thursday.
In a statement, Ntuli confirmed she tendered her resignation as a member of the DA and member of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.
She said her decision was not taken lightly “but one that is necessary for my growth as a community leader”.
The former DA Youth leader who made her aspirations clear when she, then Gauteng leader John Moody and John Steenhuisen challenged each other for the national leader position in the last elective conference.
She has often spoken out against the DA’s leadership and policies, mostly accusing it of being ineffective and lacking.
In a letter announcing her intention to contest the position of party leader, Ntuli noted there were major issues confronting the party and its leadership.
She said the party had lost donors “who no longer believe in us”, throwing the DA into a financial crisis and as a result, there was not enough funding for constituencies to do political activities.
In 2020, Ntuli wrote an open letter titled: “Insiders and Outsiders: The politicisation of our DA disciplinary processes”, where she recalled how at some point, the party’s top brass wanted to expel her using bogus charges.
Ntuli kicked off the letter by saying, over the years, the party’s problems were not properly diagnosed because there was a “preoccupation with feigning unity at the expense of having the difficult conversations”.
“It has been clear to me since at least 2014 that there exists an insider and outsider clique in our party. This is not uncommon in many organisations, but in a political party the size of the DA, with as many members and moving parts, it is crucial to not allow that cult-like mentality to settle and find a home,” she wrote.
She said it was not race issues that were destroying the party but power grabs by individuals within the party who have vested interests.
In her statement released on Thursday morning, Ntuli said she still firmly believed that the current political system and existing political parties were not focused on making South Africa the equitable, just country it needed to be.
“They are simply not able to foster collaboration, innovation and organise to make a difference,” she said.
In her last 13 years in the party, she founded the DA Student Organisation branch at Rhodes University while she was a student there.
In 2011, she was a councillor in eThekwini’s Bhambayi area. The following year, she was elected first national chairperson of the DA Youth.
“In 2012, I led the DA’s first real march, which was the march for the youth wage subsidy.
“In 2013, I was elected DA Youth leader,” she said previously.
As the country prepared for the 2016 local government poll, provincial DA leader Zwakele Mncwango assigned Ntuli to campaign for the party in Umkhanyakude District Municipality, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
And then, in the 2019 elections, she was tasked to help grow the DA’s support in KwaZulu-Natal in the 2019 elections.
While the DA did not perform as well in the other 8 provinces, Ntuli said the party grew its support from 12.76% to 13.9% in KZN during her tenure, and subsequently, increased the number of seats held by the DA in the KZN Legislature from 10 to 11.
“It was the only province in which the party grew its support in the 2019 elections,” she said.
The resignation of Mmusi Maimane, Herman Mashaba, John Moodey, Bongani Baloyi and other leaders in the party has further fuelled suggestions that the party was ridding itself of black leaders.