Tshwane councillors dump DA citing racism within party
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Pretoria - Two DA councillors have resigned from the Tshwane City Council and the party, accusing the “bully white-cabal” within the official opposition of racism and using regional leader Mpho Mehlape-Zimu as a front to fight their battles.
Former MMC for Environment and Agriculture Management Mike Mkhari and Rose Maake, a PR councillor in Soshanguve, resigned with immediate effect on Tuesday and cited racism, disrespect and bullying as their reasons.
The duo’s departures came a few weeks after DA MP Phumzile van Damme resigned from Parliament after being placed on forced sabbatical by party leader John Steenhuisen. It also followed a public fallout with DA federal chairperson Helen Zille.
In a joint media statement, Mkhari and Maake further accused the “white cabal” of Mehlape-Zimu of being a political pawn to sideline black leaders who dared to speak up against them.
The two said their sudden resignations were due to the "disrespect, undermining, bullying and bossy tendencies from the DA leadership”.
They charged that “the DA has a tendency of using black people to destroy each other, and some of our colleagues see it but they are afraid to speak out”, adding: “We will not be part of the people who accept these standards”.
Mkhari told the Pretoria News that Mehlape-Zimu was "fronted" by some white people within the DA to fight their battles. “She was parachuted into the position to serve the agenda of the white elite, and in fact, she is being fronted. She doesn't even know what is happening in her own region.
“Even in the DA caucus there is a group that is used to target other councillors, and if those issues are brought to the attention of the leadership, it becomes a matter of which cabal are you part of?” Mkhari said. According to
him, the councillors being targeted were
black and their detractors were white. Mehlape-Zimu didn’t respond to a request
to comment on the specific allegations levelled against her by the councillors.
However, in a media statement she said: ”We have further noted the allegations made by these councillors, which we find disingenuous as both of them used to be leaders in the organisation but never took action.
“Both of them had a future in the DA, but we respect their decision.”
She said their resignations followed “the disciplinary action of issuing non-performing councillors in the DA-led City of Tshwane with letters to improve their performance in relation to both party activities and to the City and its residents in general”.
“This was further as a result of the constituency being placed under administration due to non-performance and infighting for more than 12 months now.
“It is regrettable that these councillors resigned rather than making an effort to improve their performance and continue serving the Tshwane residents who elected them through the DA in 2016,” she said.
She said the DA would not be distracted by “divisive actions intent on derailing our vision to bring stability to the City of Tshwane and its residents”.
Mkhari said he was also aggrieved by the decision of the party not to contest by-elections in the township-based wards last month.
“We had by-elections and the DA didn't want to contest those elections, and
that gave the impression that they don't care about the township. They invested a lot of resources for by-elections campaigns in the suburbs,” he said.
Maake shared Mkhari's sentiments, saying disrespect by the DA leaders towards black councillors forced her out
of the party. She was accused of unfairly benefiting from Covid-19 food parcels donated by NGOs to the party.
Maake denied the accusations, saying she used her “discretion to donate to whomever I see to be in need. She said her numerous attempts to complain to Mehlape-Zimu fell on deaf ears.
“I believe that she (Mehlape-Zimu) is just being put in that position to save face, but all decisions are made without her knowledge,” she said.
Mkhari and Maake have joined a growing list of black DA leaders who resigned from the party since last year. It included former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, former Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba, former Gauteng leader John Moodey and former Tshwane regional leader and utility services MMC Abel Tau, among others.
Mashaba has since formed ActionSA, essentially a DA splinter party.