Mbali Ntuli recalls failed attempt by DA leaders to expel her using bogus charges
Durban – Mbali Ntuli, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) national party leader hopeful, has recalled how at some point the party’s top brass wanted to expel her using bogus charges.
Ntuli made these startling allegations in an open letter she penned on Tuesday titled: “Insiders and Outsiders: The politicisation of our DA disciplinary processes.”
The letter was for the attention of the party’s delegates as they prepare for a virtual elective conference in October/November this year. At the federal congress, Ntuli would be up against interim national leader John Steenhuisen who is believed to have the backing of the party’s old guard.
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.
“Not race, not ideology, not young versus old, but plain old-fashioned power grabs led often by individuals who seem to believe ruling by fear is the only way to instil discipline and be unchallenged,” she said.
Ntuli said one of the biggest challenges the party must face is the weaponisation of the internal judiciary arm, the Federal Legal Commission (FLC). According to her, there is no ’firewall’ between the FLC and political structures, the commission is being used and should she get the nod from branches, she can reform it.
“There is no consistency to how matters of discipline are handled because of this politicisation,” she said.
Citing how the commission was allegedly used against her, Ntuli said in 2017 it recommended that she should not face charges for liking a Facebook comment which was perceived to be anti-Helen Zille, the DA’s federal council chairperson. But because it was under political influence, she was charged nonetheless.
“I was later surprised to then receive the charges just as the Zille tweets scandal was unfolding. It would eventually emerge that there was no case against me and the FLC recommended dropping the matter. It would come as no surprise to many that despite the FLC recommending one thing, the politicisation of the matter resulted in further investigations and great personal financial cost in legal fees, all to answer to these bogus charges,” she said.
She added that after the attempt to expel her failed, the party offered a hollow apology.
“Eventually, with all avenues to try and terminate my party membership exhausted, the party opted to go the mediation route … At the conclusion of the mediation, the party recommended a shaking of hands in lieu of a formal apology, which I vehemently rejected. To this day, I have yet to receive a formal apology.”
DA’s national spokesperson Solly Malatsi defended the FLC and disputed Ntuli’s assertion that it was a weapon to purge leaders.
“The party believes that the party’s FLC proposes have the required ethical professionalism, fairness and impartiality to deal with complaints and investigations impartially. As part of the execution of the review panel’s recommendations, the party is bolstering the FLC to ensure that it continues to uphold these standards in conducting their work,” Malatsi said.