KZN leader blamed in DA matric row
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen's backers are pushing for the party to take action against KwaZulu-Natal leader Zwakele Mncwango, accusing him of being behind "embarrassing" revelations that Steenhuisen has no post-matric qualification.
The Sunday Times can reveal that the DA parliamentary caucus closed ranks around Steenhuisen at its meeting on Thursday, pointing a finger at Mncwango for publicly sharing the KwaZulu-Natal caucus's proposal that only politicians who have degrees must hold influential positions such as that of chief whip or South African president.
The charge against Mncwango is said to have been led by Steenhuisen's ally, DA deputy federal chair Natasha Mazzone.
Insiders said that the matter divided the party's caucus along racial lines.
The meeting resolved to ask the DA federal executive to probe how the DA caucus in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature supported a proposal that was not in line with the party's policies and constitution, and to look into Mncwango's role in the matter.
A showdown is expected at the next federal executive meeting, where Mncwango is expected to be backed by other provincial leaders. The matter could cause further divisions in the DA ahead of the elections.
A DA MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity because caucus discussions are confidential, said Mazzone called for a motion of no confidence to be adopted against Mncwango during the meeting, but this was shot down as it was not consistent with the constitution of the party.
Another DA MP said: "This thing of qualifications has embarrassed and touched the big boys of the DA, the untouchables."
Other DA sources said Steenhuisen's supporters want action taken against Mncwango. The two are long-time political foes in the KwaZulu-Natal DA.
Two other independent DA sources said Desiree van der Walt, a DA MP from Limpopo, proposed that the caucus should write to the party's federal leadership to express unhappiness about how KwaZulu-Natal had treated Steenhuisen.
Mncwango said he was not aware of any pending investigation or intention to bring charges against him.
"I can't comment on discussions of the DA caucus in the National Assembly. I will have to wait if there is something like [an investigation or intention to charge him] because I have not been informed by anyone about it," he said.
"No one has communicated anything from the National Assembly with me but I assume if there is an investigation it will be an investigation into the DA caucus in KZN for its submission to the commission. I don't understand how a caucus can make a decision against another caucus. I will have to wait and see because it doesn't make sense why anyone would be investigating or charging an individual for a caucus decision," Mncwango said.
Steenhuisen declined to comment on the caucus discussion when approached by the Sunday Times on Friday.
He, however, revealed that he knew of "some engagement" with the KwaZulu-Natal leadership.
"I haven't laid any charge. I am busy trying to win votes for the party. I am not busy fighting, because internal battles don't win votes," was all he would say.
Mazzone said the leaking of caucus discussion was "reprehensible".
It is understood that DA federal executive chair James Selfe this week wrote to Mncwango to tell him that his caucus's proposal was not informed by party policies.
Selfe declined to comment on the matter.
Van der Walt also declined to comment on the issue and so did national spokesperson Solly Malatsi, both insisting caucus discussions were not for public consumption.