Mbali calls for DA elections to be deferred
Durban - Former DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli has called on party structures to not allow the elective conference to be held virtually.
Instead, she called for the event to be postponed until it was safe for delegates to participate when there would be no risk of Covid-19.
The party's Federal Council is expected to meet on Saturday and Sunday to decide, among other things, whether the conference which was scheduled for October should be held virtually due to the virus.
“I am appealing to every member of the party to speak to their Federal Council representatives just as many of you have reached out to me, and ask our representatives to reject the online congress and rather have this congress when it is safe and possible to do so,” she said.
Ntuli is campaigning against interim party leader John Steenhuisen and Gauteng leader John Moodey to be elected as leader of the party during the upcoming conference.
She used her own encounter with Covid-19 to express the seriousness of the virus and raised concerns that DA members would risk contracting it when they hold meetings in preparation for the conference.
“I have just started recovering from Covid-19. However, despite this I infected members of my family, and a partner who has become incredibly sick,” Ntuli said.
She said as a result of infection, she experienced the worst sickness in her entire life, but was lucky to have access to “great medical care and resources to self-isolate”.
She said she and her partner had to be hospitalised because of the severity of their symptoms.
“A councillor in my constituency was hospitalised because of Covid because the nature of working in a constituency like Umlazi means dealing directly with constituents.
“There is no ability to work in a constituency like ours via telephone or email,” she said.
Ntuli's campaign spokesperson Sam Mgobhozi said as a result of her experience with Covid-19, Ntuli was calling for the conference to be postponed until it was safe for delegates to meet and deliberate on party issues, including policies, and also elect new leadership.
Mgobhozi said Ntuli was also opposed to the idea of the virtual conference, which was proposed by the party in March.
Steenhuisen earlier this month told Independent Media that he would not start his campaign until the Federal Council had decided on how the conference should be held.
Ntuli said holding an annual general meeting next month in preparation for the conference during the peak of Covid-19 would put members and staff who would have to oversee these at a risk of contracting the virus.
“We will be asking members to get into taxis, sit in a hall, hold an AGM and then get back on taxis to go home all so we can elect a leader in October.
“If they don't do this, they will likely be left behind in extensive plans to have them vote online.”
She said there was no guarantee that if members contracted the virus they would have enough space in their homes to self-isolate.
“We cannot guarantee that they will even have the ability to access quality healthcare should they take a turn for the worst."
Ntuli also warned party structures not to allow the conference to be held virtually, and instead called for the event to be postponed until it was safe for delegates.
DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi confirmed that the Federal Council would meet at the weekend.
“Federal Council is, indeed, meeting this weekend to discuss among other issues, the recommendation from the federal executive for the virtual congress,” Malatsi said.
Steenhuisen said: “The matter is being decided at our Federal Council meeting this weekend. I will respect the outcome of what the party structures decide.”
Moodey also said he preferred to leave the issue of whether or not the conference should be held virtually to be resolved by the Federal Council meeting.