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‘We are treated worse than animals’: Ex-DA officials threaten legal action after membership terminated

Helen Zille has rejected arguments of former DA members.

Helen Zille has rejected arguments of former DA members.

PHOTO: Alet Pretorius, Gallo Images

  • The DA is facing more woes after the membership of three officials was terminated.
  • Former Swellendam Municipality speaker Bongani Sonqwenqwe, deputy mayor Abraham Pokwas and councillor Gcobisa Mangcu-Qotyiwe were informed about their suspension last month.
  • But the party’s federal chairperson Helen Zille said they had violated key party clauses.

Three axed DA members have threatened to take the party to court after their memberships was terminated.

However, the party’s federal chairperson Helen Zille is sticking to her guns. Zille informed former Swellendam Municipality speaker Bongani Sonqwenqwe, deputy mayor Abraham Pokwas and councillor Gcobisa Mangcu-Qotyiwe about their suspension in December.

They claimed they were suspended because they did not abide by a caucus decision to hold back on advertising the position of director for corporate services in the Swellendam Municipality. 

They said they were in the process of seeking legal advice and would likely take the matter to court to challenge the constitutionality of the DA’s cessation clause.

“I believe in the process of natural justice and that everyone should be treated fairly,” Pokwas said.

READ | ‘Monumental disaster’: DA fights to get name on ballot paper for Cape Town by-election after blunder

Pokwas claimed that at one time they had wanted to bring a motion of no confidence in a DA mayor in the municipality but were requested to withdraw by the party.

He said:

Where is peace now? Instead, we have been expelled. Where is equality? We are treated worse than animals.

Sonqwenqwe said he would not want the matter to end up in court. 

“I do, however, believe that the courts are fair and will see to it that this whole debacle is dealt with fairly and that my membership will be reinstated soon,” he said.

Mangcu-Qotyiwe said the party’s actions could be costly in the elections.

“Actions like these damage the brand of the party and could reflect in the election results if not handled correctly. I will do anything and everything to protect my dignity, which is a right guaranteed by our South African Constitution. This is not the apartheid era,” she said.

While they were no longer office-bearers at the municipality, municipal manager Anneleen Vorster declared the positions vacant to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa last month.

“The municipality would like to confirm that these vacancies have no effect on the normal functioning of Swellendam municipality, and all operations will continue as before,” the municipality said in a statement.

However, Zille was adamant that they had violated the DA’s constitution.

“No one was terminated. They cessated their membership by violating key clauses in the DA’s constitution, which mean immediate cessation.

“No one was terminated – and certainly not by Helen Zille. Cessations are confirmed by the federal legal commission, and the party follows their advice to the letter,” she told News24.

Zille said the comments of the three former officials were “biased” and aimed at placing “their conduct in a favourable light without giving the other side of the story”.



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