Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga. Picture: Jacques Naude/ANA
Johannesburg - A ferocious battle for the leadership of the DA in Gauteng has taken an ugly turn, with allegations of dirty tricks in the run-up to the elective conference next weekend.

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has complained to the party’s leadership echelons that Gauteng DA leader John Moodey has allegedly been “circled by a pack of vultures” in their bid to oust him in favour of party newcomer Ghaleb Cachalia.

The tussle has pitted Gauteng, which has become the party’s largest province, against some in the the DA’s parliamentary caucus, where Cachalia is a member.

In a confidential email, which Independent Media has seen, sent to DA Federal Council chairperson James Selfe, Msimanga launched a scathing attack on DA deputy chief whip Mike Walters.

This followed a leak of a “damning” Gauteng internal membership audit report last Friday, which laid bare irregularities in the party’s membership in the country’s economic hub.

Walters sent an email to Gauteng DA members in which he charged that the DA leadership under Moodey had been “unable to account for all membership in the province, and the auditor is therefore unable to conduct a proper and valid qualified audit”.

“Colleagues, it is not a fabrication or exaggeration of what appeared in the report. It is an indictment, to say the least, and an embarrassment for a party that prides itself on clean administration.”

This angered Msimanga, who has slammed Walters, saying his behaviour was designed to cause animosity in the province.

Gauteng is the DA’s next target to wrest control from the ANC, with Msimanga earmarked to be the premier.

Msimanga asked Selfe to set up a federal legal commission of inquiry to investigate the behaviour of Walters and his alleged role in leaking information to the media.

“It is real harmful vulture behaviour. In fact, some of the worst 'offenders' with the membership problems we face are some of the main movers in this type of behaviour,” Msimanga said.

“The leak was done without providing context, without explaining what the role of the provincial leader is in the actual administration of the province, and without references to the staff shortages we face,” he said.

Gauteng DA leader John Moodey Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA

Msimanga added that the leak was also done “without reference to the fact that the entire party faced similar problems after our strenuous focus on the 2016 elections, and without reference to the changes in the auditing processes that the party faced for the first time”.

“It is clear it is a deliberate leak to the media using internal information for internal campaigning - a practice widely condemned in the party and against which the party leadership has continuously expressed itself.”

Msimanga said the leak fundamentally undermined efforts of the province to fix membership problems and that it was done over the weekend when the members were in a workshop to deal with the challenges.

He said similar membership problems had come to light ahead of the local government elections in August last year, but Moodey’s detractors were now allegedly using it for their selfish interests.

It would be “cowardly and wrong” as an outgoing chairperson to allow “solid party systems” to be “cynically and maliciously undermined”, Msimanga said.

Contacted for comment, Walters denied that he leaked internal information to the media but confirmed he had sent an email to DA members.

“I wanted, as a senior member of the organisation, to make our members aware of the situation. I cannot divulge the content of my email. It was confidential,” Walters said.

He was adamant that the DA members had a right to know the state of the party.

According to insiders, other provinces, including the Western Cape and Northern Cape, had similar membership problems.

“The Northern Cape had to postpone their conference until next year to resolve the membership issue,” one of the source said.

On Thursday night, Cachalia confirmed he was one of the recipients of Walters’ email.

He, however, denied allegations that the aim was to influence DA members to support him during the upcoming elective conference.

Msimanga and Selfe could not be reached for comment.

The Star