'It’s the misinformation project, not the DA,' says Phumzile van Damme after departure

27 June 2021 - 17:17 By amanda khoza
Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has terminated her membership of the party. File photo.
Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has terminated her membership of the party. File photo.

Former MP Phumzile Van Damme on Sunday would not be drawn into commenting further on why she’s decided to terminate her DA membership.

“The point is the misinformation project [we will be rolling out soon], not the DA. I need to be non-partisan and I can’t be a member of any party in order to be able to monitor misinformation from all parties and do so fairly and hold all accountable,” she said in what will be her last media interview on exiting the party.

Van Damme, who joins a long list of prominent black leaders to exit the party, including Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba, made the announcement of her departure as DA member on Saturday night.

She tweeted: “I have decided to terminate my DA membership. The misinformation monitoring and combating project we will be rolling out during election season requires that I be non-partisan. Our plans are at an advanced stage. SA first. Always has been.”

Earlier this month, TimesLIVE reported that the DA had played down criticism about a lack of diversity in the list of the party’s local government campaign managers. A list doing the rounds on social media contained the names of 18 DA members, predominantly white men. It has been criticised by social media users for its lack of diversity. 

TimesLIVE also reported previously that Van Damme had cited the influence of a “clique of individuals” as the reason for her resigning as an MP, adding that her resignation was not linked to a perception that the DA had morphed into a “racist party”.

It was also reported that tension between her and party leader John Steenhuisen had refused to go away after he granted her a sabbatical that she insisted she had not asked for.

She indicated that she would not be joining another political party. 

Van Damme, who enjoyed a long stint as a DA representative in the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication, gave herself a glowing appraisal as a legislator.

Van Damme rose through the ranks of the DA. She joined as an activist who later became a staff member in its communications team, party national spokesperson and MP.