DA members cited racism and victimisation as reasons for resigning
So said Atlantis councillor Greg Bernado who, along with chief whip Shaun August and mayco members Siyabulela Mamkeli, Suzette Little and Thulani van der Stemela, resigned from the DA on Thursday.
The five party members resigned shortly after executive mayor Patricia de Lille had addressed a full council sitting at the Civic Centre.
They cited racism and victimisation by the party's higher echelon as one of the main reasons for their departure.
“I would like to tell communities: they (DA) are busy with their campaigns. When they come to your door, chase them away. They are a bunch of liars, they are a bunch of deceivers,” Bernado said.
De Lille said she had suffered vicious attacks for over a year in a council that was hell-bent on smearing her name.
Two Bowmans reports probing De Lille had contradictory findings, she said, in that in one report into corruption and maladministration in the City of Cape Town, she is reportedly found to be complicit in irregularities.
The second report, however, absolved her, De Lille said.
De Lille also gave those who accused her of using City money to renovate her home a chance to publicly apologise.
Failing that, she would take legal action against them, De Lille said.
August took to social media shortly after his resignation to explain his reasons.
“I can no longer support a racist regime who continue to undermine my fight for non-racialism and equality. I can no longer serve a party that claims a particular set of values but acts contrary to those values. I can no longer serve a party that is inconsistent with the application of rules, where some are above them. I will continue to serve the people of South Africa in any capacity and will endeavour to do so with integrity and the principles that will put our citizens before us as politicians,” August said.
When asked about whether they were concerned about how the exodus could negatively affect the party, provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said: “It is concerning because you want to grow and not lose people. We would have loved to retain these members, but they've taken a decision to leave, which means we must focus on two very important things, service delivery and preparing for the elections next year.”
He added that it was not “something new for people to break away”.
The same people “who are crying foul can be accused of the very same allegations they are making”, Madikizela said.
He said the party was taking a “strong stance” to get to the bottom of the allegations.
While the vacancies of the five councillors were now available, DA Cape Metro chairperson Grant Twigg said: “We have vacancies now and we will go through normal processes to fill them.”
Asked whether there was a name on the table to replace August, Twigg answered “no”.
The deputy chairperson of the DA federal council, Thomas Walters, said the party was not racist.
“There is nothing original about calling the DA racist. The DA has the most diverse leadership and electorate of all political parties in South Africa. That, I think, is enough of an answer to people playing the race card. There are also allegations of intimidation that are downright untrue.”