Murder allegation mars DA provincial win
Cape Town - The DA’s provincial congress has concluded, but a bitter legal battle may be in the works for newly-elected leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and his former challenger Masizole Mnqasela over an alleged murder plot.
On Saturday, the party held its provincial congress where as many as 1 000 delegates across the Western Cape cast their votes for provincial leadership.
Madikizela emerged victorious with a majority vote over three other candidates; he will now occupy for a second term.
MEC for community safety Albert Fritz was re-elected as deputy leader, Jaco Londt elected provincial chairperson, and three provincial vice-chairpersons are JP Smith, Grant Twigg and Geordin Hill-Lewis, and provincial chairperson of finance is Eric Marais.
However, contestation for the top job was marred by allegations that Madikizela tried to have Mnqasela, who is the speaker in the provincial legislature, murdered.
A whistle-blower allegedly witnessed a meeting where Madikizela handed over a bag of money to gangsters who would kill his opponent.
On the eve of the congress, both parties issued scathing statements, throwing verbal punches, and daring each other to take legal action over the alleged murder plot.
The party’s internal structure cleared Madikizela of wrongdoing, paving the way for Saturday’s congress. Madikizela said he would sue his opponent.
Mnqasela fired back: “Its almost a month since I heard him saying he is going to send summons and he is going to sue me. That was on October 27, so the statement he sends (Friday) talking about a lawsuit is a repetition of what he said in a letter to me and I am still waiting for the papers.
“If Madikizela has any basis to challenge what the whistle-blower or what I said, I challenge him to follow the law to deal with the dispute in a clean way.”
Mnqasela, has not opened a police case but said his lawyers were busy with the matter.
After his win, Madikizela refused to comment on any legal action, saying he wanted to focus on his victory and would evaluate the matter on Monday.
However, in delivering his address to delegates during congress, he gave a scathing speech on the direction the party needed to take when dealing with infighting.
“After this, congress we will need to refocus our attention to our voters and improve on service delivery,” he said.
“But we have to deal with the toxic culture of intimidation, threats, fear, vindictiveness, smear campaigns and character assassinations from people who call themselves leaders, because if we don’t, this will destroy us. We need to unite our caucuses to start focusing externally, where it matters.
“We have to work harder towards the 2021 local government elections regain the trust lost from our voters.”
The ANC’s leader in the legislature, Cameron Dugmore, said: “It’s clear that the preferred candidate of the conservative DA cabal won the day. This victory will not heal the deep divisions within the DA.
“I would like to congratulate Madikizela on his re-election and urge him to use his position to build unity in the province. He must free himself from the Zille cabal and do the right thing. We cannot, however, ignore the allegations before this conference of assassination plots against the speaker. Thus we will write to the speaker on Monday and request that these allegations are discussed as a matter of public importance in terms of the rules.”
Political analyst Zweli Ndevu said Madikizela’s win is no surprise given the support he enjoys from senior leaders within the party.
“Madikizela’s win means the continuation of the Zille and Steenhuisen narrative, while Mnqasela (would have meant) an opposite view. However, practically nothing will change.”
Ndevu said Mnqasela’s win might have created tension within the party given the murder plot allegations.
“This is the first time in the history of the party. I am convinced it was a desperate attempt from him to discourage Madikizela and create doubt on the process,” he added.
Analyst Daniel Silke, said: “While one does not know what impact this soap opera-style accusations have had on the party’s internal dynamics what is important to is to stop this backstabbing and infighting.
“But the DA has to find a constructive message for voters and package its policies and new leadership of Steenhuisen and other provincial leaders and make it accessible and attractive for voters.
“The party has been under strain over the last few years with voters choosing to give their votes to other smaller parties because they have been disgruntled. Their challenge is to win back lost voters and attract new ones.”