Former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli
The DA decision to press disciplinary charges against its former youth leader, Mbali Ntuli, has thrown the party into a quagmire.

The independent disciplinary body that presided over the investigations into Ntuli’s conduct has stuck to its guns that there was no case against her.

Ntuli was accused of liking a social media post that said former DA leader Helen Zille was a racist.

Despite recommendations not to charge her, the party’s federal executive committee - which consists of provincial leaders, among others - charged Ntuli.

It has emerged that the party was disciplining Ntuli for the sake of being seen to be consistent and managing the backlash from supporters of its controversial MP Dianne Kohler Barnard and former DA leader Zille.

With the party’s federal council meeting set for Durban next month, DA leader Mmusi Maimane has called for mediation between Ntuli and Zille.

Ntuli’s case has also lifted the lid on the fissures between Zille’s and Maimane’s supporters, who believe Ntuli has become the subject of a witch-hunt.

Last Friday Ntuli was slapped with five charges, including bringing the DA into disrepute, acting in a manner that harmed its image and opposing party policies.

Yesterday Federal Legal Commission member Alan McLoughlin, who investigated the matter and presented a report to the Federal Executive (FedEx), said he maintained that there was no case against Ntuli.

“I know it sounds contradictory, but now I have to argue against my own recommendations. But what I said about Ntuli is factual stuff. I can’t change that, nobody can change that,” said McLoughlin.

The Federal Legal Commission panel will appoint three members to hear the matter.

“They will hear my side of it, and Ntuli’s side and make their decision. They will have the power to impose some kind of sanction - they could fine her or give her a warning. The worst they could do is terminate her membership of the party,” McLoughlin said.

In the report, dated April 11, McLoughlin said there was insufficient evidence against Ntuli to secure a conviction on misconduct and no further action should be taken against her.

“There is no evidence to support an allegation that Ntuli’s actions publicly opposed the party’s principles or repeatedly opposed published party policies

“Even if the documentary evidence was augmented it is unlikely the result would be any different as the facts are all contained in the documentary evidence submitted,” he said.

McLoughlin warned that there would be more harm to the party’s image if it continues with disciplinary action against her and she wins.

But DA federal chairperson James Selfe yesterday said it was important to charge Ntuli for consistency’s sake.

“One of the duties of the federal executive is to maintain consistency. You must remember that we charged Ms Dianne Kohler Barnard for a similar charge and she was severely punished.

“How does one justify charging Ms Kohler Barnard and not Ms Ntuli?”

Selfe conceded that the party’s social media policy should be updated.

Maimane’s spokesperson, Mabine Seabe, said there needed to be mediation between Ntuli and Zille.

“The Federal Legal Commission must facilitate mediation between them because it seems a matter between two people is now being turned into a party matter. An agreement has to be reached between them.”

Seabe said Maimane firmly believed that party decisions, whether by the Federal Legal Commission or FedEx, should be respected.

Ntuli and Zille have had run-ins in the past. The animosity between the two leaders degenerated into a Twitter battle on Tuesday when Zille tweeted: “MBALI was charged LONG before me. Pls get yr facts b4 jumping to false conclusions.”

This led to Ntuli calling Zille out: “No I wasn’t Helen. I was charged on Friday.”

When contacted, Ntuli would not comment. Zille, however, said her and Ntuli’s charges are unrelated.

Political Bureau