Durban - An alleged fight between the KwaZulu-Natal DA leader Zwakele Mncwango and his predecessor, Sizwe Mchunu, who earlier this week surprised many when he defected to the ANC, is believed to be the source of the exit of the latter.
Mchunu was among the first crop of black leaders who joined the DA fresh from university and later became a member of the provincial legislature (MPL). He was later followed by a group of black leaders that included Mncwango, Mbali Ntuli and Hlanganani Gumbi, both MPLs in the KZN Legislature.
It is said Mchunu, who was favoured by the likes of former DA leader Helen Zille and the then rising star, Mmusi Maimane, felt threatened.
The tensions later came to the fore when Mncwango took on Mchunu for the position of provincial leader and beat him by only five votes during a conference held in 2015 in Richards Bay. Immediately after taking over, Mncwango started to assert his presence only to find Mchunu felt it was undoing his long legacy as the first black provincial leader of the party.
At some point, Mchunu told Independent Media, he was not “100 percent happy” with the direction the party was taking under his successor.
The tensions were further heightened when Mncwango took a decision to move Mchunu to uMzinyathi, a vast rural district in the north of KZN. There, Mchunu was expected to help the party expand. Mncwango maintained that this was a bid to grow the party from being a largely urban party to being an inclusive one. This was seen as making Mchunu taste his own medicine after he assigned Ntuli to work in uMkhanyakude, a rural district in northern KZN.
One insider said this not only became an issue of black leaders fighting each other but also involved their white and Indian supporters in the party, hence Mchunu left with three DA councillors from uMsunduzi (Pietermaritzburg).
“I am not ruling out a possibility of other black members who were close to Mchunu following him to the ANC in the near future because the tensions there are becoming unbearable,” the insider who joined the DA around 2008 said.
While Mncwango recently said this won’t affect the party, the insider said the defection was denting the party’s effort as Mchunu had somehow became the face of the DA to many black people who wanted to join the party.
Despite the worries of losing black voters, Xolani Dube, a political analyst from Xubera Institute for Research and Development, said Mchunu’s defection, as a result of the alleged fights with Mncwango, will not affect the DA’s black vote bid.
He said it would only going to affect if a leader like Ntuli left the party. “The electorate has already made up its mind and this defection will not affect the DA’s black vote in the elections... Unlike Mbali (Ntuli), who has a constituency and has worked in the DA election machinery, Mchunu last hogged the headlines years ago and he only surfaced this week,” Dube said.
Mchunu said his decision to leave the party was not informed by the alleged friction between him and Mncwango but by the new vision of the ANC under President Cyril Ramaphosa.
He added he was not going to make bashing the DA his daily business.
Mncwango denied that there was bad blood between him and Mchunu, saying even Mchunu knows that very well, adding fights between them are imaginary.