DA leader fears politics of personal destruction will be costly at polls

Johannesburg  – The DA is worried that the recent scandals over qualifications involving its senior leaders will eat into its support base during the local government elections in October 27.

DA leader John Steenhuisen conceded that the official opposition was gripped in the politics of “personal destruction”.

Addressing the party’s federal council – the official opposition’s highest decision-making body between conferences – Steenhuisen called for an end to the politics of personal destruction in the run-up to the local polls.

“We have made forced errors recently and engaged in the politics of personal destruction. This tendency must be stopped, as we start to campaign positively on our campaign messages.”

His comments come in the wake of the resignation of former Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and provincial health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo.

While Madikizela resigned from all his positions including as transport MEC and member of the provincial legislature, Mbombo left her post as the leader of the DA Women’s Network. Madikizela and Mbombo are allies.

It is understood that Mbombo resigned in solidarity with her partner. While the federal council commended Madikizela for his decision, the party’s leadership decried Mbombo’s resignation, saying this was adding fuel to fire.

“They said Nomafrench should have waited,” a leader who attended the virtual meeting on Friday told Sunday World. Sunday World reported that Madikizela’s resignation came amid a dirty fight over who was going to be the party’s Cape Town metro candidate during the local elections. Sunday World has established that a fortnight, the party had to indefinitely postpone interviews for the powerful position following disputes over the composition of the panel to interview candidates. Madikizela is in the running for the powerful Cape Town post.

His backers believe that the allegations regarding his qualifications were part of a smear campaign to block his ascendency to the position.

Other mayoral hopefuls include incumbent Dan Plato and MP and finance spokesperson Geordin Hill-Lewis, who is said to enjoy the support of Steenhuisen and the powerful “white bloc”.

Steenhuisen’s comments on the party’s politics of personal destruction come in the wake of another dismal performance by the DA during recent by-elections. In the by-elections contested on Wednesday, ANC retained 10 seats and won two over the DA and the IFP.

The IFP and DA both retained one seat each won in the 2016 municipal elections. The DA was also banking on the ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s “showdown” to deflect the ruling party in the runup to the local polls.

“The Ace Magashule showdown is about to unfold; it is a big moment for South Africa. All the ANC has left to campaign on is race mobilisation. They have no offer. They have to reach back into the past for role models [Charlotte Maxeke] because they have no exemplary people in the present. The AG [auditor-general] results show Western Cape is the best-run province by far, with Gauteng a distant second. We must campaign on our capacity to govern better,” Steenhuisen said.

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